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B       580.C69  1887 
Meditations  of  Marcus  Aurellus  / 


T153    DD53155E    0 

r'ersity  of 







^be  Camelot  Series. 

Edited  bv  Ei^sEsx  Rhys. 


~=^=^ -'  THE 




Tr  ansl  ded  from  the  Gj-eek 


Revised,  with  an  Introduction  ana  i\otes 




c  6  •/ 




BOOK  I.   . 

BOOK  II.  . 


BOOK  IV.  . 

BOOK  V.     . 
^   BOOK  VI.  . 
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BOOK  IX.  . 

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BOOK  XL  . 
















NTIL  philosophers  are  kings,  and  the  princes 
of  this  world  have  the  spirit  and  power 
of  philosophy,  and  political  greatness  and 
wisdom  meet  in  one,  cities  will  never  cease 
from  ill — no,  nor  the  human  race,  as  I 
believe — and  then  only  will  our  state  have  a  possibility 
of  life,  and  see  the  light  of  day."  "The  truth  is,  that  the 
state  in  which  the  rulers  are  most  reluctant  to  govern  is 
best  and  most  quietly  governed,  and  the  state  in  which 
they  are  most  willing  is  the  worst." 

Thus  writes  Plato  in  his  Republic,  laying  down  the 
conditions,  which  even  to  him  appear  impossible,  under 
which  a  state  may  be  wisely  governed.  The  ruler  must  be 
a  philosopher  as  well  as  a  king ;  and  he  must  govern 
unwillingly,  because  he  loves  philosophy  better  than 
dominion.  Once  in  the  history  of  the  world  these  con- 
ditions were  fulfilled :  in  Marcus  Aurelius  we  find  the 
philosopher  king,  the  ruler  who  preferred  the  solitude  of 
the  student  to  th^  splendour  of  the  palace,  the  soldier  who 
loved  the  arts  of  peace  better  than  the  glory  of  war.  It  is 
with  no  small  interest  that  we  turn  to  the  records  of 
history  to  see  what  was  the  outward  life  led  by  this  king ; 
but  even  more  willingly  do  we  open  the  precious  record  of 


his  own  thoughts,  which  reveal  to  us  the  inner  life  of  the 

Marcus  Aurelius  Antoninus  was  the  adopted,  son  of  the 
Emperor  Antoninus  Pius,  who  died  in  161  a.d.  He  had 
been  brought  up  with  the  utmost  care  by  his  adoptive 
father,  and  received  the  best  instruction  in  poetry  and 
rhetoric,  at  that  time  the  staples  of  a  liberal  education. 
But  his  favourite  study  was  philosophy,  and  when  only 
eleven  years  old  he  assumed  the  philosophers'  simple  dress, 
adopted  their  mode  of  life  ;  and  finding  that  his  inclination 
was  chiefly  towards  Stoicism,  he  attached  himself  to  this — 
the  strictest  of  the  philosophic  schools.  A  discipline  of 
jOQua^tic  severity,  that  bade  its  followers  disregard  all 
bodily  comfort,  all  that  is  commonly  called  pleasure,  and 
care  for  nought  but  virtue,  was  indeed  a  strange  training 
Eor  one  destined  for  the  imperial  purple,  and  it  hardly 
appeared  to  be  a  fitting  preparation  for  the  cares  of  what 
was  then  the  one  great  Empire  of  the  world.  True,  the  Stoics 
loved  to  call  themselves  citizens  of  the  world,  and  to 
inculcate  that  cosmopolitanism  that  is  broader  and  nobler 
than  mere  patriotism  ;  but  while  they  maintained  in  theory 
that  the  wise  man  should  take  part  in  politics,  in  practice 
there  was  always  something  in  the  existing  state  of  things 
which  made  his  doing  so  unadvisable.  But  Marcus 
Aurelius  could  not  choose  his  own  lot.  Destined  for  the 
throne  already  by  the  Emperor  Hadrian,  associated  in  the 
empire  even  in  his  adoptive  father's  lifetime,  he  could  but 
accept  his  lot,  and  in  striving  to  practise  the  noble 
principles  he  had  learnt,  pay  to  his  Stoic  teachers  the  truest 

^is  was  a  troubled  reign.  The  Homan  Empire,  which 
in  the  vigorous  days  of  the  Republic  had  been  gradually 
but  surely  extending  its  boundaries,  had  been  consolidated, 


and  newly  administered  by  Julius  Cjesar  and  Augustus. 
On  the  death  of  the  latter  it  extended  from  the  Atlantic  on 
the  west  to  the  Armenian  mountains  and  Arabian  deserts 
on  the  east.  On  the  south  the  African  deserts  had  alone 
stopped  the  conquering  arms,  while  on  the  north  a  line  of 
natural  boundaries  was  traced  by  the  English  Channel, 
Rhine,  Danube,  Black  Sea,  and  Mount  Caucasus.  Warned 
by  the  ill-success  that  attended  the  later  campaigns  of  his 
generals  on  the  Lower  Rhine,  Augustus  had  cautioned  his 
successors  to  aim  at  preserving  rather  than  increasing  their 
dominions.  Thus  it  came  about,  that  between  the  years 
14  and  161  a.d.,  when  Marcus  Aurelius  succeeded  to  the 
throne,  only  two  fresh  conquests  had  been  made  ;  Britain, 
a  source  of  more  trouble  than  profit  to  the  empire,  and 
Dacia,  conquered  by  Trajan  in  106  A.D. 

Natural  boundaries  and  Roman  legions  kept  peace  and 
security  for  many  years  within  the  circle  of  Roman 
dominion.  But  there  were  two  weak  points  on  these 
borders.  On  the  north  the  hardy  German  tribes  on  the 
Danube  and  Upper  Rhine,  themselves  hard  pressed  by 
Slavonian  intruders  from  Russia,  threatened  to  invade  the 
Roman  dominion ;  on  the  east  the  "  insolent  Parthian," 
long  the  terror  of  the  Roman  arms^  was  a  constant  source 
of  trouble  and  danger.  ..Xlxft  pRane-lnvi^g^jIarcus  Aurelius 
was  obliged  to  cope  with  both  these  enemies.  The  arms, 
or  rather  the  army,  of  the  insolent  and  profligate  Lucius 
Yerus  for  a  time  subdued  the  Parthians,  but  no  lasting 
peace  was  destined  Marcus  Aurelius.  He  himself  con- 
ducted the  campaigns  on  the  Danube,  and  again  and  again 
beat  back  the  northern  enemy  in  wars,  of  which  the  chief 
interest  to  us  now  consists  in  the  scant  notes  in  the 
Meditations — "  This  among  the  Quadi,"  "  this  at  Carmun- 
tum,"  showing  how  these  precious  records  of  a  pure  and 


serene  soul  were  composed  amid  the  storms  of  battle  and 
the  elation  of  victory.  Nor  were  his  troubles  confined  to 
foreign  wars.  The  plague,  imported  from  the  East,  ravaged 
Italy,  though  it  did  the  state  good  service  in  carrying  off 
Lucius  Yerus,  Marcus's  adoptive  brother,  whom,  in  obedi- 
ence to  the  wishes  of  Antoninus,  he  had  associated  with 
himself  in  the  empire.  There  were  famines  too  in  the 
land,  with  which  the  Emperor  tried  to  cope  by  schemes  of 
carefully-organised  charity.  And,  lastly,  Avidius  Cassius, 
one  of  his  most  trusted  and  ablest  generals,  revolted  in 
Syria,  and  tried  to  obtain  for  himself  the  empire,  deeming 
it  an  easy  matter  to  overcome  a  master  who  was  so  full  of 
generosity  and  compassion  that  he  could  only  inspire  con- 
tempt in  the  mind  of  the  unphilosophic  soldier.  The 
revolt  was  soon  put  down,  but  the  leader  was  killed  by  one 
of  his  own  officers.  The  Emperor  expressed  only  his 
regret  that  he  should  have  been  thus  deprived  of  the 
luxury  of  forgiveness,  and  he  carefully  destroyed  all  docu- 
ments that  could  implicate  any  others  in  the  revolt. 
Thus  in  all  the  trials  of  his  life  his  philosophy  inspired 
noble  action,  and  he  might  worthily  be  added  to  the  short 
list  of  those  whom  the  Stoics  acknowledged  as  really  good 
and  great. 

Amid  these  records  of  gentleness  and  forbearance  it 
seems  strange  to  read  that  Marcus  Aurelius  permitted  a 
cruel  persecution  of  the  Christians.  Among  the  victims 
of  this  reign  were  Justin  Martyr  and  Polycarp,  and 
numbers  suffered  in  a  general  persecution  of  the  churches 
at  Lyons  and  Vienne.  It  must  not,  however,  be  for- 
gotten that  the  persecution  was  political  rather  than 
religious.  Of  the  true  teaching  of  Christianity  Marcus 
Aurelius  knew  little  and  cared  less;  but  its  followers,  in 
refusing   to    acknowledge   a    religion    which   included   the 

MAR  C  US  A  URELIUS.  xi 

Emperors  among  its  deities,  became  rebels  against  the  existing 
order  of  things,  and  therein  culpable.  Of  the  old  sincere 
belief  in  the  gods  of  Rome  but  little  could  survive  in  a 
state  where  the  vote  of  the  Senate  had  the  power  to  add  a 
new  divinity  to  the  already  bewildering  list.  So  much  the 
more  important  were  the  outward  forms,  now  that  the  actual 
belief  was  gone,  and  the  bond  between  Church  and  State 
grew  even  closer,  now  that  the  Church  could  no  longer 
stand  alone.  Of  the  various  systems  of  philosophy  at  that 
time  fashionable  at  Rome,  all  but  the  Epicurean  could 
readily  embody  the  creed  of  the  old  religion,  and  by 
treating  the  names  of  gods  and  heroes  as  mere  symbols, 
they  contrived  to  combine  outward  conformity  with  inner 
enlightenment.  Not  so  the  Christians.  In  their  eyes  the 
whole  system  of  idolatry  was  accursed.  A  silent  protest 
was  insufficient.  It  was  not  enough  to  refrain  from  sacrifice 
themselves  ;  in  public  and  in  private,  in  season  and  out  of 
season,  they  exhorted  others  to  do  the  like  ;  not  content 
with  leaving  the  statues  of  the  gods  unhonoured,  they  would 
throw  them  from  their  pedestals,  or  insult  them  in  the 
presence  of  the  faithful.  What  wonder  that  the  Romans 
looked  on  them  with  suspicion  and  hatred,  and  added  to 
their  real  ofiences  the  pretended  ones  of  eating  human  flesh 
and  indulging  in  all  manner  of  immorality.  In  our  own 
more  enlightened  day  we  know  what  strange  reports  gather 
round  any  sect  or  school  that  happens  to  be  unfashionable 
or  unpopular.  What  wonder,  then,  that  the  secret  meet- 
ings of  the  Christians  should  have  given  rise  to  strange 
rumours,  and  that  the  persecutions  "  were  the  expression 
of  a  feeling  with  which  a  modern  state  might  regard  a 
set  of  men  who  were  at  once  Mormons  and  Nihilists.  ""'^ 
Add  to  this  that  the  Christians  often  actually  provoked 
*  F.  Myer's  Classical  Essays. 


persecution,  and  we  cease  to  wonder,  though  we  cannot 
but  regret,  that  Marcus  Aurelius,  in  simply  allowing 
the  law  to  take  its  course,  should  have  failed  to  give  an 
example  of  that  perfect  toleration  to  which  Christianity 
itself  has  never  yet  attained.  Let  us  be  content  to  call  hira, 
with  Earrar,  "the  noblest  of  Pagan  Emperors,"  and  sorrow- 
fully acknowledge  that  we  must  seek  in  vain  for  a  Christian 
monarch  to  place  beside  him.  Wars  and  troubles  attended 
Marcus  Aurelius  to  the  very  end  of  his  days.  In  177  a.d. 
fresh  wars  called  him  to  the  north.  A  presentiment  seemed 
to  tell  his  friends  at  Kome  that  they  should  not  see  him 
again,  and  they  begged  him  to  address  them  his  farewell 
admonitions.  There  is  nothing  more  striking  in  the  whole 
of  Aurelius'  career  than  this  picture  of  the  great  general 
discoursing  for  three  days  before  his  departure  for  the  wars 
on  the  deep  questions  of  philosophy.  This  was  indeed  the 
last  time  he  was  seen  at  Kome.  Worn  out  by  anxiety  and 
fatigue,  after  once  more  winning  victory  for  the  Roman 
arms,  he  died,  in  Pannonia,  on  March  17th,  180  A.D., 
mourned  with  a  note  of  such  true  sorrow  as  never  before  or 
again  was  raised  at  the  death  of  an  Emperor. 

It  is  time  to  inquire  into  the  nature  of  that  philosophy 
which  was  capable  of  exercising  an  influence  so  distinctly 
practical ;  yet,  when  we  consider  its  teaching  as  laid  down 
by  its  founders,  its  distinct  materialism  and  impracticable 
ethics  afford  little  sugsrestion  of  such  fruits  as  it  was  destined 
to  bear  in  the  Roman  world. 

The  Stoic  school  was  founded  by  Zeno  at  Athens  about 
290  B.C.  At  this  time  Greek  philosophy,  which,  under 
Socrates,  Plato,  and  Aristotle,  had  lived  through  a  short 
period  of  idealism,  was  returning  to  its  naturally  material- 
istic groove,  and  the  founders  of  new  systems  looked  back 
to    the   pre-Socratic    physicists    for    some    theory    of   the 

MARC  US  A  URELIUS.  xiii 

universe  on  which  they  might  base  their  own.  Metaphysical 
speculation  had  ceased  to  charm ;  it  was  practical  ethics,  a 
rule  of  life  and  conduct,  that  philosophy  now  desired  to 
supply ;  and  though  these  later  schools  based  ethics  on 
natural  science,  they  were  content  to  go  back  to  the 
investigators  of  old  for  a  system,  instead  of  devoting 
themselves  on  their  own  account  to  scientific  research. 
The  two  most  important  schools  at  this  epoch  were  the 
Stoic  and  Epicurean  ;  and  while  the  latter  sought  in  the 
atomic  theory  of  Democritus  an  explanation  of  the 
universe,  the  former  reverted  to  the  "  perpetual  flux,"  the 
eternal,  ever-changing  fire  of  Heraclitus. 

Before  there  was  a  heaven  or  earth  there  was  a  primi- 
tive fiery  ether.  This  changes  into  all  the  other  elements, 
and  yet  in  its  nature  ever  retains  the  fiery  substratum. 
First  this  fiery  ether  transforms  itself  into  a  mass  of  vapour, 
then  into  a  watery  fluid.  Out  of  this  are  developed  the 
four  elements  as  we  know  them  :  water,  and  solid  earth, 
and  atmospheric  air,  and  lastly  consuming,  destructive  fire, 
which  is  distinct  from  the  everlasting  ether.  Fire  and  air 
are  active  elements ;  water  and  earth,  passive.  The  creation 
begins  to  assume  its  present  form  with  earth  ;  dry  earth,  by 
reason  of  its  weight,  takes  up  a  position  at  the  centre  of  the 
universe,  around  it  gather  the  waters,  above  both  is  the 
expanse  of  air,  while  fire  and  ether  complete  the  whole, 
ever  circling  round  the  other  elements  which  are  at  rest. 
The  stars  are  fiery  masses  firmly  embedded  in  ether,  and 
nourished  by  the  exhalations  of  terrestrial  vapours.  But 
they  are  also  living  beings,  since  they  are  formed  out  of 
living,  animating  fire,  and  they  may  thus  be  regarded  as 
inferior  or  visible  gods.  "  The  sun  and  the  celestial 
•deities,  too,  have  their  business  assigned,"  says  Marcus 


The  world  is  faultless,  say  the  Stoics,  and  must  therefore 
have  been  produced  by  an  intelligent  artificer.  Hence  the 
highest  reason  is  immanent  in  the  world,  and  must  be 
regarded  as  self-conscious  and  personal.  For  has  it  not 
created  man,  who  is  self-conscious  and  personal,  and  can  the 
created  be  greater  than  the  creator  ?  And  yet,  paradoxical 
as  it  may  seem,  the  Stoic  god  is  not  a  person,  but  is  the 
fiery  ether  that  pervades  all  things.  This  fiery  substratum 
of  all  matter  is  its  soul;  the  soul  of  the  universe,  which 
holds  together  all  things  in  one  fixed  law,  is  God  himself. 
In  one  aspect  the  Deity  is  but  a  fiery  air-current ;  in 
another  he  is  Zeus,  the  intelligent,  almost  personal  lord  of 
the  universe.  Both  these  aspects  may  be  found  in  Marcus 
Aurelius  ;  but  in  him  the  simpler  ethical  teaching,  the  gentle 
exhortation  to  a  virtuous  life,  predominate  over  subtle 
speculation  on  the  origin  of  things,  and  be  speaks  of  God  in 
language  that  suggests  vividly  to  us  the  omnipotent, 
omniscient.  Deity  of  Monotheism. 

The  Stoics  traced  back  all  things  to  formless  matter  and 
the  informing,  animating  ether.  Matter  was  in  its  nature 
eternal,  since  the  underlying  fire  was  imperishable  ;  but  all 
things  were  being  gradually  consumed,  and  at  the  end  of  a 
fixed  period  there  would  be  a  general  conflagration,  when 
all  things  should  be  reabsorbed  into  the  Deity.  Then  once 
more  they  would  be  developed  afresh,  and  another  cycle 


*•  The  world's  great  age  begins  anew, 
The  golden  days  return, 
The  earth  doth  like  a  snake  renew 
Her  winter  weeds  outworn," 

sings  Shelley,  but  the  Stoics  expected  no  "  brighter  Hellas," 
or  "  fairer  Tempes."  The  new  things  should  be  but  as  the 
old ;   in  the  new  cycle   there  should  be  another  Socrates, 


de^i/iufcu;  to  marry  another  Xanthippe,  and  meet  with  the 
same  rough  treatmeLt  at  her  hands,  and  finally  to  be 
accused  by  Anytus  and  Meletus,  and  once  more  utter  his 
glorious  defence,  and  drain  the  cup  of  hemlock  among  his 
sorrowing  disciples. 

Some  such  scheme  of  the  universe  was  certainly  accepted 
by  all  the  Stoics,  but  the  later  teachers,  at  any  rate,  attached 
little  importance  to  it,  except  in  as  far  as  it  demonstrated 
man's  intimate  connection  with  the  Deity  and  his  fellow- 
men.  They  believed  that  the  soul  was  material,  and 
extended  in  space.  It  is  the  fiery  current  that  is  difiused 
through  the  body,  and  holds  it  together.  They  regarded  it 
as  the  guiding  or  dominant  principle,  the  indestructible 
divine  spark  It  is  this,  the  reasoning  element,  which 
establishes  the  relationship  between  God,  the  universal 
reason,  and  man,  to  whose  lot  has  fallen  a  minute  share 
of  it  \  while  the  brotherhood  of  Man  is  maintained  in 
virtue  of  a  kinship,  not  of  flesh  and  blood,  but  of  mind 
and  reason.  ^Though  we  are  not  just  of  the  same  flesh 
and  blood,  yet  our  minds  are  nearly  related."  (Marcus 
Aurelius,  Med.  ii.  1.) 

JUd—the  Stoies  believe  in  a  life  after  deatK?  It  is  not 
easy  to  decide.  They  did  not,  like  the  Epicureans,  fiercely 
deny  it,  maintaining  that  annihilation  alone  could  remove 
the  terrors  of  death.  Undoubtedly  the  individual  soul 
must  at  last  be  absorbed  into  the  universal  soul ;  but 
whether  this  happened  at  once,  or  not  until  the  next  con- 
flagration, was  a  point  on  which  authorities  were  not 
agreed.  In  any  case,  the  soul  must  return  to  the  Deity 
whence  it  sprang.  This  relation  to  the  Deity  was  the 
fundamental  point  of  Stoic  ethics.  It  follows  from  the 
kinship  that  man's  true  good  must  lie  in  conformity  with 
the  Deity.     But  God  and  reason  are  identical.     Therefore^ 


life  in  accordance  with  reason  must  be  best  suiLeJ  tw  che 
constitution  of  the  soul.  And  such  a  life  must  be  in 
accordance  with  virtue.  Hence  this  is  the  highest  eood, 
and  happiness  consists  in  virtue. 

Thus  the  Stoics  arrive  at  their  main  thesis.  Virtue  alone 
is  admirable,  virtue  is  absolutely  self-sufficient ;  the  good 
man  needs  no  help  from  circumstances ,  neither  sickness 
nor  adversity  can  harm  him  ;  he  is  a  king,  a  god  among 
men.  All  so-called  good,  if  it  be  not  moral  good,  is  included 
in  the  class  of  "  things  intermediate,"  neither  good  nor 
bad.  Such  absolute  claims  for  virtue  had  never  before 
been  made  by  any  school.  Aristotle  had  stipulated  for 
sufficient  external  advantages  to  enable  a  man  to  devote 
himself  without  further  care  to  the  life  of  thought  and 
virtue.  The  Stoics  would  permit  of  no  such  compromise. 
Virtue,  and  virtue  only,  was  what  they  demanded.  The 
virtuous  man  might  be  a  slave,  a  victim  to  disease,  to 
poverty,  might  be  deprived  of  all  he  loved,  yet  he  would 
remain  solely  and  absolutely  happy.  Virtue  was  one  and 
indivisible.  Whoever  was  not  virtuous  was  vicious  ;  there 
was  no  middle  course.  Here  was  a  point  in  their  doctrine 
which  could  hardly  be  made  to  square  with  fact.  We 
know  too  well  that  men  are  not  divided  into  virtuous  and 
vicious,  but  all  possess  some  share  of  good  and  evil, 
and  that  most  men  desire  what  is  right,  and  fail,  when 
they  do,  from  weakness  rather  than  viciousness.  The 
Stoics,  who  demanded  absolute  virtue  and  disregard  of 
externals,  had  to  confess  that  the  wise  men  were  few  and 
the  foolish  legion  ;  nay,  when  hard  pressed  to  name  their 
wise  men,  they  would  give  a  remarkable  list — Hercules, 
Odysseus,  Socrates,  the  Cynics  Antisthenes  and  Diogenes; 
and  in  the  later  days  of  the  school,  Cato  the  younger,  the 
only  Stoic  among  the  number. 



Such  a  list  alone  appears  to  us  sufficient  condemnation 
of  Stoicism  in  its  earlier  forms.  Had  no  further  advance 
been  made,  Stoicism  would  be  of  small  interest  to  us  now, 
but  happily  it  was  destined,  as  Capes  remarks  in  his  little 
handbook  on  Stoicism,  to  be  "tempered  by  concessions  to 
common  sense."  The  paradoxes  about  the  wise  man  had 
been  borrowed  from  Cynicism,  which  was  regarded  by  the 
Stoics  as  "  a  counsel  of  perfection."  Diogenes  in  his  tub, 
bidding  Alexander  stand  out  of  his  sunshine,  might  excite 
surprise  and  wonder ;  but  a  movement  that  should  lead  a 
whole  community  to  abandon  civilisation  and  resort  to  life 
in  tubs  would  be  distinctly  retrogressive.  In  later  times 
Christian  hermits  have  at  best  saved  their  own  souls,  and 
the  exhortations  delivered  by  St.  Simeon  Stylites  from  the 
top  of  his  pillar  cannot  have  influenced  the  gaping  multi- 
tude as  much  as  a  noble  life  led  in  their  midst.  Without 
the  practical  element  there  would  have  been  no  life  in 
Christianity,  and  Stoicism  similarly  had  to  descend  from  its 
pedestal,  and  walk  among  men. 

First  of  all,  the  theory  of  absolute  good  and  evil  had  to 
be  modified.  Virtue  was  still  the  only  real  good,  and  vice 
the  only  real  evil ;  but  besides  these  they  now  admitted  a 
class  of  "  things  to  be  preferred,"  and  another  of  "  things  to 
be  avoided."  Among  the  former  might  be  included  health, 
good  repute,  and  other  advantages  which  had  formerly  been 
summarily  disposed  of  as  "indifferent."  Again,  while  the 
impossible  wise  man  still  remained  the  ideal  of  Stoicism,  it 
was  admitted  that  there  might  be  good  meD  with  lofty  aims 
and  blameless  lives  who  should  yet  dwell  among  men  as 
their  fellows.  In  short,  the  wide  gap  between  the  sage 
and  the  fool  was  now  filled  up,  and  as  a  result  the  Stoic 
system  was  able  to  find  a  place  for  real,  existing  human 



These  more  practical  developments  were  coincident  with 
its  introduction  into  the  Roman  world.  The  Romans  were 
nothing  if  not  practical.  A  nation  of  soldiers  and  lawyers, 
they  had  borrowed  from  Greece  her  culture,  and  adapted 
it  to  their  own  needs.  So  too  they  borrowed  their 
philosophy.  When  "  conquered  Greece  led  her  barbarous 
conqueror  captive,"  a  few  of  the  nobler  minds  at  Rome 
discovered  that  there  was  something  at  Athens  worth 
carrying  off  besides  the  statues.  Some  would  spend  a  year 
or  two  at  Athens  studying  philosophy ;  others  induced  the 
greatest  teachers  themselves  to  bring  their  doctrines  to 
Rome ;  and  in  the  first  century  B.C.  all  the  Greek  systems 
were  represented  in  the  capital  of  the  world.  Among 
them  all  Stoicism  found  most  adherents.  Its  teachings  of 
simplicity,  resignation,  and  calm  in  the  midst  of  disturbance, 
found  willing  listeners  among  the  earnest  Republicans,  who 
saw  their  hopes  of  liberty  gradually  fading  before  the 
approaching  monarchy.  Its  doctrine  that  suicide  was 
admissible,  even  admirable,  when  circumstances  made  it  no 
longer  possible  "  to  take  ar  as  against  a  sea  of  troubles," 
pointed  to  a  mode  of  escape  from  the  tyranny  they  could 
not  avert.  Thus  Cato  sought  death  at  his  own  hands  when 
the  Republic  perished,  and  it  was  Stoic  teaching  that  forbade 
Brutus  and  Cassius,  though  not  Stoics  themselves,  to  survive 
the  battle  of  Philippi. 

In  the  early  days  of  the  empire,  when  corruption  and 
license  were  at  their  height,  the  court  evinced  deep  hatred 
against  the  philosophers,  more  especially  the  Stoics.  The 
outspoken  manner  in  which  they  chastised  the  wickedness 
of  the  time  may  have  led  to  their  unpopularity ;  in  any 
case,  there  were  several  decrees  of  banishment  against  them, 
and  among  the  victims  at  one  time  was — 


**  That  halting  slave,  who  in  Nicopolis 
Taught  Arrian,  when  Vespasian's  brutal  son 
Cleared  Rome  of  what  most  shamed  him." 

"Well  might  the  name  of  Epictetus  be  counted  among 
those  who  cheer  the  soul  in  evil  days,  for  where  can  sweeter 
resignation  or  truer  piety  be  found  than  in  such  words  as 
these — "  Dare  to  look  up  to  God  and  say,  Deal  with  me  for 
the  future  as  thou  wilt,  I  am  of  the  same  mind  as  thou  art ; 
I  am  thine  :  I  refuse  nothing  that  pleases  thee  :  lead  me 
where  thou  wilt :  clothe  me  in  any  dress  thou  choosest  :  is 
it  thy  will  that  I  should  hold  the  office  of  a  magistrate, 
that  I  should  be  in  the  condition  of  a  private  man,  stay 
here  or  be  an  exile,  be  poor,  be  rich  %  I  will  make  thy 
defence  to  men  in  behalf  of  all  these  conditions."  These 
were  not  empty  words,  for  they  found  their  illustration  in 
the  life  of  the  speaker. 

In  the  lame  slave  Stoic  ethics  rose  to  its  noblest  heights  • 
but  it  was  left  to  the  imperial  philosopher,  by  broadening 
and  humanising  its  teaching,  to  give  to  the  world  in  his 
Meditations  "  the  gospel  of  those  who  do  not  believe  in 
the  supernatural." 

These  Meditations  were  not  written  as  a  whole — probably 
they  were  never  intended  for  publication ;  they  are  simply 
the  Emperor's  commonplace  book,  where  he  entered  his 
reflections,  often  quite  unconnected,  on  the  things  of  time 
and  eternity.  By  this  means  he  seems  to  have  adopted  his 
own  counsel  of  withdrawing  into  his  own  mind,  there  to 
seek  calm  and  quiet.  It  is  noteworthy  that  in  Marcus 
Aurelius  the  claims  of  natural  affection  are  never  dis- 
regarded. Book  I.  is  entirely  devoted  to  recording  his 
obligation  to  his  parents,  friends,  and  teachers  for  the 
benefit  of  good  training  or  example.  For  all  those  helps 
and  advantages  which  can  be  traced  to  none  of  these,  he 


simply  thanks  "  the  gods,"  without  further  discussion  or 
inquiry  into  their  nature.  The  same  loving  disposition 
gives  life  to  the  Stoic  doctrine  of  the  citizenship  of  the 
world.  ^Marcus  Aurelius  truly  finds  himself  akin  to  all 
mankind.  ^  "Ma^iad-ara^under  one  common  law  ;  and  if 
so,  they  must  be  fellow-citizens,  and  belong  to  the  same 
body  politic.  From  whence  it  will  follow  that  the  whole 
world  is  but  one  commonwealth  "  {Med.  iv.  4).  "  Now  a 
social  temper  is  that  which  man  was  principally  designed 
for "  (vii.  55).  This  brotherhood  of  man  will  lead  us  to 
strive  for  the  common  good,  and  reckon  nothing  else  our 
own  advantage.  "  That  which  is  not  for  the  interest  of  the 
•whole  swarm  is  not  for  the  interest  of  a  single  bee  "  (vi.  54). 
It  will  lead  us  also  to  pity  and  forgive  our  enemies.  "  And 
since  it  has  fallen  to  my  share  to  understand  the  natural 
beauty  of  a  good  action  and  the  deformity  of  an  ill  one ; 
since  I  am  satisfied  the  person  disobliging  is  of  kin  to  me, 
and  though  we  are  not  just  of  the  same  flesh  and  blood,  yet 
our  minds  are  nearly  related,  being  both  extracted  from  the 
Deity,  I  am  convinced  that  no  man  can  do  a  real  injury, 
because  no  man  can  force  me  to  misbehave  myself ;  nor  can 
I  find  it  in  my  heart  to  hate  or  be  angry  with  one  of  my 
own  nature  and  family.  For  we  are  all  made  for  mutual 
assistance,  as  the  feet,  the  hands,  and  the  eyelids ;  as 
the  rows  of  the  upper  and  under  teeth  "  (ii.  1).  Marcus 
Aurelius  loves  to  dwell  on  the  instability  and  insignificance 
of  all  things.  "  The  vast  continents  of  Europe  and  Asia 
are  but  corners  of  the  creation  ;  the  ocean  is  but  a  drop, 
and  Mount  Athos  but  a  grain  in  respect  of  the  universe, 
and  the  present  instant  of  time  but  a  point  to  the  extent  of 
eternity.  These  things  have  all  of  them  little,  changeable, 
and  transitory  beings "  (vi.  36).  We  shouhL-Accustom 
ourselves  to  watch  the  eternal  course  of  destruction,  and 


realise  that  the  universe  itself  sustains  no  harm.  The 
death  of  one  thing  is  the  birth  of  another.  "  The  universal 
nature  works  the  universal  matter  like  wax.  Now,  for  the 
purpose,  it  is  a  horse;  soon  after  you  will  have  it  melted  down 
and  run  it  into  the  figure  of  a  tree;  then  a  man,  then  some- 
thing else.  And  it  is  but  a  little  while  that  it  is  fixed  in  one 
species.  Now  a  tr'ink  feels  no  more  pain  by  being  knocked 
in  pieces  than  when  it  was  first  put  together  "  (vii.  23). 
"Death  a^id  generation  are  both  mysteries  of  nature,  and 
somewhrxt  resemble  each  other ;  for  the  first  does  but 
dissolvfj  those  elements  the  latter  had  combined"  (iv.  5). 
Amid  all  this  change  the  only  true  good  is  philosophy, 
which  teaches  us  to  keep  our  guiding  principles  pure  and 
untainted  by  bodily  impressions.  "Toss  me  into  what 
cliniate  or  state  you  please.  For  all  that,  I  will  keep  my 
divine  part  content  if  it  but  exi^t  and  act  in  accordance 
with  its  nature  "  (viii.  45).  Nothing  external  can  influence 
u?i,  unless  we  pronounce  it  good  or  evil.  This  is  in  accord- 
Stnce  with  the  Stoic  doctrine,  that  all  sensations  make  a 
material  impression  on  the  soul ;  but  it  is  left  to  the  reason- 
ing or  guiding  principle  to  decide  whether  they  are  true  or 
false,  good  or  evil.  "Hold  in  honour  your  opinionative 
faculty,  for  this  alone  is  able  to  prevent  any  opinion  from 
originating  in  your  guiding  principle  that  is  contrary  to 
nature  or  the  proper  constitution  of  a  rational  creature  " 
(iii.  9.)  "  Do  not  suppose  you  are  hurt,  and  your  complaint 
ceases ;  cease  your  complaint,  and  you  are  not  hurt"  (iv.  7), 
writes  the  Emperor,  using,  as  he  so  often  does,  an  obscure 
dogma  to  point  a  practical  moral. 

Such  practical  teaching  abounds  in  Marcus  Aurelius ;  but 
he  rises  to  higher  flights.  How  gladly  he  quotes  Antis- 
thenes's  comment  on  the  kingly  prerogative.  "  It  is  a  royal 
thing  to  be  iL  spoken  of  for  good  deeds"  (vii.  36).     How 


well  he  satirises  the  craving  for  gratitude,  so  aptly  defined 
by  a  French  writer  as  the  '  usury '  we  exact  for  our  good 
deeds.  "Some  men,  when  they  do  you  a  kindness,  at  once 
demand  the  payment  of  gratitude  from  you  ;  others  are 
more  modest  than  this.  However,  they  remember  the 
favour,  and  look  upon  you  as  their  d.'^btor  in  a  manner.  A 
third  sort  shall  scarce  know  what  they  have  done.  These 
are  much  like  a  vine,  which  is  satisfied  by  being  fruitful  in 
its  kind,  and  bears  a  bunch  of  grapes  without  expecting  any 
thanks  for  it.  A  fleet  horse  or  greyhound  do  noi  make  a 
noise  when  they  have  done  well,  nor  a  bee  neither  when 
she  has  made  a  little  honey.  And  thus  a  man  th>at  has 
done  a  kindness  never  proclaims  it,  but  does  another  as 
soon  as  he  can,  just  like  a  vine  that  bears  again  the  next 
season.  Now  we  should  imitate  those  who  are  so  obliging. 
as  hardly  to  reflect  on  their  beneficence  "  (v.  6).  And  how 
scathing  is  this  criticism  of  the  aflfectation  of  virtue  !  "  How 
fulsome  and  hollow  does  that  man  look  that  cries — 'I  am 
resolved  to  deal  straightforwardly  with  you.'  Hark  you, 
friend,  what  need  of  all  this  flourish'?  Let  your  actions 
speak  ;  your  face  ought  to  vouch  for  your  speech.  I  would 
have  virtue  look  out  of  the  eye,  no  less  apparently  than 
love  does  in  the  sight  of  the  beloved.  I  would  have 
honesty  and  sincerity  so  incorporated  with  the  constitution 
that  it  should  be  discoverable  by  the  senses"  (xi.  15). 

Here  is  another  gem  that  sparkles  with  especial  bright- 
ness—  "The  best  way  of  revenge  is  not  to  imitate  the 
injury"  (vi.  6). 

Very  noble  is  this  conception  of  the  true  function  of 
prayer — "  This  man  .  .  .  invokes  the  gods  to  set  him  free 
from  some  trouble ;  let  it  be  your  petition  that  youi'  mind 
may  never  put  you  upon  such  a  wish.  A  third  is  very 
devout  to  prevent  the  loss  of  his  son.     But  I  would  have 


you  pray  rather  against  the  fear  of  losing  him.  Let  this 
be  the  rule  for  your  devotions  "  (ix.  40).  To  quote  from 
the  Meditations  is  a  tempting  task,  but  they  lie  before  the 
reader,  and  he  can  make  his  own  choice.  We  must  how- 
ever briefly  inquire  how  Marcus  Aurelius  treats  those  great 
questions  to  which  each  system  must  find  some  answer,  or 
else  abandon  its  claims  to  be  a  guide  through  life.  The 
origin  of  evil  is  a  difficulty  that  every  system  has  had  to 
meet.  It  is  the  first  and  most  obvious  ars^ument  asrainst 
the  existence  of  an  All-wise  Providence.  The  Stoics  boldly 
faced  the  difficulty,  and  denied  the  facts.  The  world  is 
perfect,  they  said  ;  all  that  seems  evil  is  required  for  the 
general  good.  Oni)ii,s,,point'^farcus  Aurelius  is  perfectly 
orthodox,  but  he  condemns  too  curious  inquiry. i.__"  Does 
your  cucumber  taste  bitter? — let  it  alone.  Are  there 
brambles  in  your  way? — avoid  them  then.  /'Thus  far  you 
are  well.  But,  then,  do  not  ask,  '  What  does  the  world  with 
such  things  as  this  % '  for  a  natural  philosopher  would  laugh 
at  you.  This  expostulation  is  just  as  wise  as  it  would  be 
to  find  fault  with  a  carpenter  for  having  sawdust,  or  a 
tailor  shreds,  in  his  shop."  Epictetus  had  said  :  "  As  a 
mark  is  not  set  up  for  the  purpose  of  missing  it,  so  neither 
does  the  nature  of  evil  exist  in  the  universe  ; "  that  is, 
there  is  no  absolute  evil,  it  is  all  subordinated  to  good. 
So  too  Marcus  Aurelius  :  "  Wickedness  generally  does  no 
harm  to  the  universe ;  so  too  in  particular  subjects  it  does 
fio~jiarffi  to  anyone  "  (viii.  55).  At  times  he  points  not  to 
tlie  universal  law,  which  he  regards  as  the  providence  of 
the  universe,  but  to  the  existence  of  gods,  who  must  direct 
all  things  for  the  best.  But  he  never  asserts  this  with  any 
certainty.  The  alternative  is  between  gods  and  atoms, 
between  providence  and  chance  ;  and  though  Marcus 
Aurelius   pronounces   for   the  former,   he  desires  to  show 



that  even  under  the  latter  a  man  may  be  content.      As  to 
the  future  life,  he  never  speaks  with  any  certainty.     The 
guiding  principle  of  the  soul  can  never  perish,  since  it  is  a 
part  of   the  Deity  ;    but  whether  there   is   a  future  self- 
conscious    existence  is  a  question  he  scarcely  touches  on. 
Jliis-lifeis  all  that  concerns  us.      "  Though  you  were  des-, 
tined  _tQ  liv^   three    thousand,    or,    if   you    please,    thirty 
thousand  years,  yet  remember  that   no  man  can.  lose  any 
(Jther   life    than   that  which    he   lives   now,  neither  is  he 
possessed  of  any  other  than  that  which  he  loses"  (ii.  14). 
The  Stoic  Emperor  cannot  say  with  our  modern  poet — 

*'  "What  is  our  failure  here  but  a  triumph's  evidence 

For  the  fulness  of  the  days  ?    Have  we  withered  or  agonised  ? 
Why  else  was  the  pause  prolonged  but  that  singing  might  issue 

thence  ? 
Why  rushed  the  discords  in,  but  that  harmony  might  be  prized  \ " — 

but  he  draws  a  noble  moral  from  the  transitoriness  of  our 
being.  Not  "  Let  us  eat  and  drink,^  for  to-morrow  we  die," 
is  the  teachings  of  the  Meditations^  but  rather,  *'  Let  us  use 
this  life  well,  since  we  have  no  other."  The  consolation  for 
death  must  be  sought  in  the  consciousness  of  duty  done. 
Jf  we  have  lived_wellj  we  should  be  content  to  die,  no 
matter  whether  our  years  be  many  or  few. '  Epicurus  bade 
his  followers  depart  from  life  as  a  guest  from  a  banquet 
satisfied  with  his  entertainment;  the  Stoics,  in  sterner 
language,  bid  us  leave  the  stage  as  an  actor  who  has 
performed  his  part.  "  Hark  ye,  friend  ;  you  have  been  a 
burgher  of  this  great  city.  What  matter  whether  you  have 
lived  in  it  but  five  years  or  three  ?  If  you  have  observed 
the  laws  of  the  corporation,  the  length  or  shortness  of  the 
time  makes  no  difference.  Where  is  the  hardship,  then,  if 
Nature,  that  planted  you  here,  orders  yo;ir  removal  ?    You 


cannot  say  you  are  sent  off  by  a  tyrant  or  an  unjust  judge. 
No  ;  you  quit  the  stage  as  fairly  as  a  player  does  that  has 
his  discharge  from  the  master  of  the  revels.  But  I  have 
only  gone  through  three  acts,  and  not  held  out  till  the  end  of 
the  fifth,  you  say.  Well,  but  in  life  three  acts  make  the 
play  entire.  He  that  ordered  the  first  scene  now  gives  the 
sign  for  shutting  up  the  last.  You  are  neither  accountable 
for  one  nor  the  other.  Therefore,  retire  well-satisfied,  for  he 
by  whom  you  are  dismissed  is  satisfied  also  "  (xii.  36). 

The  lovers  of  Marcus  Aurelius  have  been  many,  and  of 
every  shade  of  opinion.  Long  quotes  from  the  preface  to 
Pierron's  translation — "  A  man  illustrious  in  the  church, 
the  Cardinal  Francis  Barberini  the  elder,  nephew  of  Pope 
Urban  YITL,  occupied  the  last  years  of  his  life  in  trans- 
lating into  his  native  language  the  thoughts  of  the  Roman 
Emperor,  in  order  to  difi'use  among  the  faithful  the 
fertilising  and  vivifying  seeds.  He  dedicated  this  trans- 
Jation  to  his  soul,  in  order  to  make  it,  as  he  says,  redder 
than  his  purple  at  the  sight  of  the  virtues  of  this  Gentile." 
Montesquieu  says  of  Marcus  Aurelius  :  "On  sent  en  soi- 
meme  un  plaisir  secret  lorsqu'  on  parle  de  cet  empereur; 
on  ne  pent  lire  sa  vie  sans  une  espece  d'  attendrissement. 
.  .  .  Tel  est  r  efiet  qu'il  produit  qu'  on  a  meilleure  opinion 
de  soi-meme  parce  qu'  on  a  meilleure  opinion  des  hommes." 

Matthew  Arnold,  in  his  Essays  in  Criticism^  points  out 
with  his  usual  clearness  the  reason  of  this  popularity — "  It 
is  remarkable  how  little  of  a  merely  local  or  temporary 
character,  how  little  of  those  scorice  which  a  reader  has  to 
clear  away  before  he  gets  to  the  precious  ore,  how  little  that 
even  admits  of  doubt  and  question,  the  morality  of  Marcus 
Aurelius  exhibits."  "  In  general  the  action  Marcus  Aurelius 
prescribes  is  action  which  every  sound  nature  must  recognise 
as  right,  and  the  motives  he  assigns  are  motives  which  every 


clear  reason  must  recognise  as  valid.  And  so  he  remains 
the  special  friend  and  comforter  of  all  clear-headed  and 
scrupulous,  yet  pure  and  upward-striving  souls,  in  those  ages 
most  especially  which  walk  by  sight  and  not  by  faith,  and 
yet  have  no  open  vision.  He  cannot  give  such  souls,  per- 
haps, all  they  yearn  for,  but  he  gives  them  much,  and  what 
he  gives  them  they  can  receive." 

Perhaps  there  never  was  an  age  that  more  needed  such 
teaching  than  our  own.  On  one  hand,  sectarian  hatred  and 
dogmatism  almost  obscure  the  great  truths  common  to  all 
mankind  ;  on  the  other,  merciless  and  destructive  criticism, 
in  undermining  much  that  used  to  be  generally  accepted, 
seems  at  times  to  threaten  even  the  foundations  of  truth. 
Here  we  may  turn,  as  Renan  bids  us,  to  the  *  absolute 
religion '  of  the  Meditations — "  La  religion  de  Marc  Aurele 
est  la  religion  absolue,  celle  qui  resulte  du  simple  fait 
d'une  haute  conscience  morale  plac^e  en  face  de  I'univers. 
Elle  n'  est  d'  aucune  race  ni  d'  aucun  pays.  Aucune 
revolution,  aucune  changement,  aucune  d^couverte,  ne 
pourront  la  changer." 

The  Meditations  are  chiefly  known  to  English  readers  in 
Long's  translation,  a  most  scholarly  work,  and  remarkable 
for  its  perfect  fidelity  to  the  original.  Its  one  defect  is  a 
certain  lack  of  vigour,  though  it  must  be  confessed  that 
the  original  too  is  defective  in  point  of  style  and  finish. 
Before  this  appeared,  the  best-known  translation  was 
Jeremy  Collier's,  a  book  with  a  charm  all  its  own,  in  fact,  a 
version  far  more  spirited  than  the  original.  Greek  scholars 
must  always  delight  in  Long's  perfect  accuracy,  but 
Collier's  work  has  a  value  of  its  own.  "  Jeremy  Collier, 
too,"  observes  Matthew  Arnold,  "  like  Mr.  Long,  regarded 
in  Marcus  Aurelius  the  living  moralist,  and  not  the  dead 
classic ;    and   his  warmth  of  feeling  gave  to  his  style  an 


impetuosity  and  rhythm,  which,  from  Mr.  Long's  style  (I 
do  not  blame  him  on  that  account)  are  absent."  Long  had 
found  fault  with  Collier's  translation  as  "coarse  and 
vulgar."  Mr.  Arnold  objects; — "Jeremy  Collier's  real 
defect  as  a  translator  is  not  his  coarseness  and  vulgarity, 
but  his  imperfect  acquaintance  with  Greek." 

An  attempt  is  here  made  to  offer  to  the  reader  a 
corrected,  though  I  dare  not  say  a  correct,  version  of 
Collier's  translation.  The  general  scheme  of  his  work  has 
been  left  unaltered,  but  gross  errors  have  been  corrected, 
and  modern  expressions  substituted  for  others  that  have 
grown  obsolete.  In  a  few  cases,  where  the  translator 
seemed  to  have  entirely  misapprehended  the  meaning, 
short  passages  have  been  re-written.  In  this  work  Long's 
translation  and  a  German  version  by  Cless  have  afforded 
me  invaluable  help,  and  in  some  cases  I  have  made  use  of  a 
very  charming,  though  antiquated,  seventeenth  century 
translation  by  Meric  Casaubon.  In  revising  Book  lY.,  I 
have  used  Crossley's  most  helpful  Notes.  My  warm  thanks 
are  due  to  Mr.  R.  D.  Hicks  and  Mr.  E.  Y.  Arnold  of 
Trinity  College,  Cambridge,  and  to  Mr.  R.  Garnett  of  the 
British  Museum,  for  valuable  help  in  this  work  and  in  the 
correction  of  proofs. 







BOOK   I. 

I.  ii^^^»^HE  example  of  my  grandfather  Verus 
gave  me  a  good  disposition,  not  prone 
to  anger.  " 

2.  By  the  recollection  of  my  father's 
character,  I  learned  to  be  both  modest 

and  manly. 

3,  As  for  my  mother,  she  taught  me  to  have  re- 
gard for  religion,  to  be  generous  and  open-handed,  and 
not  only  to  forbear  from  doing  anybody  an  ill  turn, 
but  not  so  much  as  to  endure  the  thought  of  it.  By  her . 
likewise  I  was  bred  to  a  plain,  inexpensive  way  of 
living,  very  different  from  l;he  common  luxury  of  the 

4.  I  have  to  thank  my  great-grandfather  that  I  did 
not  go  to  a  public  school,  but  had  good  masters  at 
home,  and  learnt  to  know  that  one  ought  to  spend 
liberally  on  such  things. 


5.  From  my  governor  I  learned  not  to  join  either 
the  green  or  the  blue  faction  on  the  race-ground,  nor  to 
support  the  Parmularius  or  Scutarius  at  the  gladi- 
ators' shows.  He  taught  me  also  to  put  my  own 
hand  to  business  upon  occasion,  to  endure  hardship  and 
fatigues,  and  to  throw  the  necessities  of  nature  into 
a  little  compass  ;  that  I  ought  not  to  meddle  with 
other  people's  business,  nor  be  easy  in  giving  credit  to 

6.  From  Diognetus,  to  shun  vain  pursuits,  not  to  be 
led  away  with  the  impostures  of  wizards  and  sooth- 
sayers, who  pretend  they  can  discharge  evil  spirits, 
and  do  strange  feats  by  the  strength  of  a  charm  ;  not 
to  keep  quails  for  the  pit,  nor  to  be  eager  after  any 
such  thinor.  This  Dioo:netus  taup^ht  me  to  bear 
freedom  and  plain-dealing  in  others,  and  apply  myself 
to  philosophy.  He  also  procured  me  the  instruction 
of  Bacchius,  Tandasis,  and  Marcianus.  He  likewise 
put  me  upon  improving  myself  by  writing  dialogues 
when  I  was  a  boy;  prevailed  with  me  to  prefer  a 
couch  covered  with  hides  to  a  bed  of  state ;  and 
reconciled  me  to  other  like  rio;ours  of  the  Grecian 

7.  It  was  Rusticus  that  first  made  me  desire  to  live 
rightly,  and  come  to  a  better  state ;  who  prevented 
me  from  running  into  the  vanity  of  the  sophists,  either 
by  writing  speculative  treatises,  haranguing  upon 
moral  subjects,  or  making  a  fantastical  appearance  or 
display  of  generosity  or  discipline.  This  philosopher 
kept  me  from  yielding  to  the  charms  of  rhetoric  and 
poetry,  from    affecting   the    character    of    a   man   of 


pleasantry,  from  wearing  my  senator's  robe  in  the 
house,  or  anything  of  this  kind  which  looks  like  con- 
ceit and  affectation.  He  taus^ht  me  to  write  letters  in 
a  plain,  unornamental  style,  like  that  dated  by  him 
from  Siniiessa  to  my  mother.  By  his  instructions  I 
was  persuaded  to  be  easily  reconciled  to  those  who  had 
misbehaved  themselves  and  disobliged  me,  as  soon  as 
they  desired  reconciliation.  And  of  the  same  master  I 
learned  to  read  an  author  carefully.  Not  to  take  up 
with  a  superficial  view,  or  assent  quickly  to  idle 
talkers.  And,  to  conclude  with  him,  he  gave  me  his 
own  copy  of  Epictetus's  memoirs. 

8.  Apollonius  taught  me  to  give  my  mind  its  due 
freedom,  and  disengage  it  from  dependence  upon 
chance,  and  not  to  regard,  though  ever  so  little, 
anything  uncountenanced  by  reason.  To  maintain  an 
equality  of  temper,  even  in  acute  pains,  and  loss  of 
children,  or  tedious  sickness.  His  practice  was  an 
excellent  instance,  that  a  man  may  be  forcible  and  yet 
unbend  his  humour  as  occasion  requires.  The  heavi- 
ness and  impertinence  of  his  scholars  could  seldom 
rouse  his  ill-temper.  As  for  his  learning,  and  the 
peculiar  happiness  of  his  manner  in  teaching,  he  was 
so  far  from  being  proud  of  himself  upon  this  score, 
that  one  might  easily  perceive,  he  thought  it  one  of 
the  least  things  which  belonged  to  him.  This  great 
man  let  me  into  the  true  secret  of  receiving  an 
obligation,  without  either  lessening  myself,  or  seeming 
ungrateful  to  my  friend. 

9.  The    philosopher     Sextus     recommended   good^ 
humour  to  me,  and  showed  me  the  pattern  of  a  house- 



hold  governed  in  a  fatherly  manner.  He  also  bade 
me  make  nature  and  reason  my  rule  to  live  by.  By 
his  precedent  I  was  instructed  to  appear  with  an 
unaffected  gravity,  to  study  the  temper  and  circum- 
stances of  my  friends  in  order  to  oblige  them.  I  saw 
him  bearing  with  the  ignorant  and  undiscerning, 
complaisant  and  obliging  to  all  people,  so  that  his  con- 
versation was  more  charming  than  flattery ;  and  yet 
at  the  same  time  he  was  held  in  the  highest  reverence 
by  others.  Conversing  with  this  philosopher  helped 
me  to  draw  up  a  true,  intelligible,  and  methodical 
scheme  for  life  and  manners,  and  never  so  much  as 
to  show  the  least  sign  of  anger,  or  any  other  disturb- 
ing thought,  but  to  be  perfectly  calm  and  indifferent^ 
yet  tender-hearted.  However,  he  let  me  see  in  him- 
self that  a  man  might  show  his  good-will  significantly 
enough,  without  noise  and  display,  and  likewise  possess 
great  knowledge  without  vanity  and  ostentation. 

10.  Alexander  the  Grammarian  taught  me  not  to  be 
ruggedly  critical  about  words,  nor  find  fault  with 
people  for  improprieties  of  phrase  or  pronunciation, 
but  to  set  them  right  by  speaking  the  thing  properly 
myself,  and  that  either  by  way  of  answer,  assent,  or 
inquiry,  or  by  some  such  other  indirect  and  suitable 

11.  Fronto  taught  me  that  envy,  tricking,  and 
dissimulation  are  the  character  and  consequences  of 
tyranny ;  and  that  those  we  call  patricians  have 
commonly  not  much  fatherly  feeling  in  them. 

12.  Alexander  the  Platonist  advised  me,  that  with- 
out necessity  I  should  never  say  to  anyone,  nor  write 


in  a  letter,  that  I  am  not  at  leisure,  nor  make  business 
an  excuse  to  decline  frequently  the  offices  of  humanity 
to  those  we  dwell  with. 

13.  I  learned  of  Catulus  not  to  slight  a  friend  for 
making  a  remonstrance,  though  it  should  happen  to 
be  unreasonable,  but  rather  to  endeavour  to  restore 
him  to  his  natural  humour.  That,  like  Domitius  and 
Athenodotus,  I  should  always  speak  well  of  those 
who  had  the  care  of  my  education,  and  that  I 
should  always  preserve  an  hearty  affection  for  my 

14.  I  am  indebted  to  Severus  for  the  love  I  bear  to 
my  relations,  and  towards  justice  and  trath.  He  like- 
wise made  me  acquainted  with  the  character  and  senti- 
ments of  Cato,  Brutus,  Thrasea,  Helvidius,  and  Dio ; 
and  gave  me  the  idea  of  an  equal  commonwealth,  with 
equal  rights  and  equal  speech,  and  also  of  a  monarchy, 
where  the  liberty  of  the  subject  was  principally  re- 
garded. To  mention  some  more  of  my  obligations  to 
him  : — It  was  of  him  I  learned  not  to  grow  wise  by 
starts  and  sudden  fancies,  but  to  be  a  constant  admirer 
of  philosophy  and  improvement ;  that  a  man  ought  to 
be  generous  and  obliging,  hope  the  best  of  matters, 
and  never  question  the  affection  of  his  friends ;  to  be 
free  in  showing  a  reasonable  dislike  of  another,  and 
no  less  clear  in  his  own  expectations  and  desires  ;  and 
not  to  put  his  friends  to  the  trouble  of  divining  what 
he  would  be  at. 

15.  I  learned  from  Maximus  to  command  myself, 
and  not  to  be  too  much  drawn  towards  anything;  to 
be  full  of  spirits  under  sickness  and  misfortune ;  to 


appear  with  modesty,  obligingness,  and  dignity  of 
behaviour ;  to  turn  off  business  smoothly  as  it  arises, 
without  drudging  and  complaint.  Whatever  he  did, 
all  men  believed  him,  that  as  he  spoke,  so  he  thought, 
and  whatever  he  did,  that  he  did  with  a  good  intent. 
He  attained  that  greatness  of  mind,  not  to  wonder  or 
start  at  anything ;  neither  to  hurry  an  enterprise, 
nor  sleep  over  it;  never  to  be  puzzled  or  dejected,  nor 
to  put  on  an  appearance  of  friendliness ;  not  to  be 
angry  or  suspicious,  but  ever  ready  to  do  good,  and  to 
forgive  and  speak  truth ;  and  all  this  as  one  who 
seemed  rather  of  himself  to  be  straight  and  right,  than 
ever  to  have  been  rectified.  Nobody  ever  could 
fancy  they  were  slighted  hy  him,  or  dared  to  think 
themselves  his  betters.  Besides  all  this,  he  had  an 
agreeable  wit. 

16.  In  my  adoptive  father  I  observed  a  smooth 
and  inoffensive  temper,  with  great  steadiness  in  keep- 
ing close  to  measures  judiciously  taken ;  a  greatness 
proof  against  vanity  and  the  impressions  of  pomp 
and  power.  From  him  a  prince  might  learn  to  love 
business  and  action,  and  be  constantly  at  it;  to  be 
willing  to  hear  out  any  proposal  relating  to  public 
advantage,  and  undeviatingly  give  every  man  his  due ; 
to  understand  the  critical  seasons  and  circumstances 
for  rigour  or  remissness.  To  have  no  boy-favourites. 
Not  to  stand  upon  points  of  state  and  prerogative, 
but  to  leave  his  nobility  at  perfect  liberty  in  their 
visits  and  attendance;  and  when  he  was  upon  his 
progress,  no  man  lost  his  favour  for  not  being  at 
leisure  to  follow  the  court.     To  debate  matters  nicely 


and   thoroughly   at   the   council-board,  and   then    to 
stand  by  what  was  resolved  on,  yet  not  hastily  to  give 
up  the  inquiry,  as  one  easily  satisfied  with  sudden 
notions    and    apprehensions.     To    be    constant    to   a 
friend,    without  tiring   or   fondness.     To   be   always 
satisfied  and   cheerful.     To  reach   forward   into   the 
future,  and  manage  accordingly.     Not  to  neglect  the 
least  concerns,  but  all  without  hurry,  or  being  embar- 
rassed.    Farther,  by  observing  his  methods  and  ad- 
ministration, I  had  the  opportunity  of  learning  how 
much  it  was  the  part  of  a  prince  to  check  the  excesses 
of  panegyric  and  flattery.      To  have   his   magazines 
and  exchequer  well  furnished.     To  be  frugal  in  his 
expenses,  without  minding  being  lampooned  for  his 
pains.     Not  to  worship  the  gods  to  superstition  ;  not 
to  court  the  populace,  either  by  prodigality  or  compli- 
ment;   but  rather   to   be   sober   and    firm   upon   all 
occasions,  keeping  things  in  a  steady  decorum,  with- 
out chopping  and  changing   of  measures.     To  enjoy 
the   plenty  and  magnificence  of  a  sovereign  fortune 
without  bragging,  and  yet  without  making  excuse ;  so 
as   freely   to    enjoy   them   when   present,  but   when 
wanting,  not  to  be  mortified  at  the  loss  of  them.     And 
to  behave  himself  so  that  no  man  could  charge  him 
with  sophistry,  or  buff'ooning,  or  being  a  pedant.     No  ; 
he  was  a  person  mature  and  perfect,  scorning  flattery, 
and  thoroughly  qualified  to  govern  himself  and  others. 
As  for  those  that  were  philosophers  in  earnest,  he  had 
a  great  regard  for  them,  but  without  reproaching  those 
who  were  otherwise,  nor  yet  being  led  away  by  these. 
He  was  condescending  and  familiar  in  conversation^ 


and  pleasant  too,  but  not  to  tiresomeness  and  excess. 
As  for  his  health,  he  was  not  anxious  about  it,  like 
one  fond  of  living,  or  over-studious  of  bodily  ap- 
pearance, and  yet  managed  his  constitution  with 
that  care  as  seldom  to  stand  in  need  of  the  assist- 
ance of  phj^sic  or  outward  applications.  Farther,  he 
never  envied  and  browbeat  those  that  were  eminent 
in  any  faculty  or  science,  as  eloquence,  or  knowledge 
of  the  laws  or  morals ;  but,  on  the  contrary,  encouraged 
them  in  their  ways,  and  promoted  their  reputation. 
He  observed  fitness  and  custom  in  all  his  actions,  and 
yet  did  not  seem  to  regard  them.  He  was  not  fickle 
and  fluttering  in  his  humour,  but  constant  both  to 
place  and  undertaking;  and  I  have  seen  him,  after 
violent  fits  of  the  headache,  return  fresh  and  vigorous 
to  his  usual  business.  He  kept  but  few  things  to 
himself,  and  those  were  secrets  of  government.  He 
was  very  moderate  and  frugal  in  shows,  public 
buildings,  liberalities,  and  such  like,  being  one  that 
did  not  so  much  regard  the  popularity  as  the  right- 
ness  of  an  action.  It  was  none  of  his  custom  to  bathe 
at  unusual  hours,  or  to  be  overcome  with  the  fancy  of 
building,  to  study  eating  and  luxury,  to  value  the 
curiosity  of  his  clothes,  or  the  shape  and  person  of  his 
servants.  His  cloak  came  from  Lorium,  his  villa  on 
the  coast;  at  Lanuvium,  he  wore  for  the  most  part 
only  a  tunic;  and  at  Tusculum  he  would  scarcely 
so  much  as  put  on  a  cloak  without  making  an  excuse 
for  it.  To  take  him  altogether,  there  was  nothing  of 
ruggedness,  immodesty,  or  eagerness  in  his  temper. 
Neither  did  he  ever  seem  to  drudge  and  sweat  at  the 

MED  IT  A  TIONS.  1 7 

helm.  Things  were  dispatched  at  leisure,  and  without 
being  felt ;  and  j^et  the  administration  was  carried  on 
without  confusion,  with  great  order,  force,  and  uni- 
formity. Upon  the  whole,  what  was  told  of  Socrates 
is  applicable  to  him ;  for  he  was  so  much  master  of 
himself,  that  he  could  either  take  or  leave  those  con- 
veniences of  life  with  respect  to  which  most  people 
are  either  uneasy  without  them,  or  intemperate  with 
them.  Now,  to  hold  on  with  fortitude  in  one  con- 
dition and  sobriety  in  the  other  is  a  proof  of  a  great 
soul  and  an  impregnable  virtue,  such  as  he  showed  in 
the  sickness  of  Maximus. 

17.  I  have  to  thank  the  gods  that  my  grandfathers, 
parents,  sister,  preceptors,  relations,  friends,  and 
domestics  were  almost  all  of  them  persons  of  probity, 
and  that  I  never  happened  to  disoblige  or  misbehave 
myself  towards  any  of  them,  notwithstanding  that  my 
disposition  was  such,  that,  had  occasion  offered,  I 
might  have  acted  thus  ;  but  by  the  goodness  of  the 
gods,  I  met  with  no  provocations  to  reveal  my  infirmi- 
ties. It  is  likewise  by  their  providence  that  my  child- 
hood was  no  longer  managed  by  my  grandfather's 
mistress ;  that  I  preserved  the  flower  of  my  youth ; 
that  I  was  subject  to  the  emperor  my  father,  and  bred 
under  him,  who  was  the  most  proper  person  living  to 
put  me  out  of  conceit  with  pride,  and  to  convince  me 
that  it  is  possible  to  live  in  a  palace  without  the  cere- 
mony of  guards,  without  richness  and  distinction  of 
habit,' without  torches,  statues,  or  such  other  marks  of 
royalty  and  state ;  and  that  a  prince  may  shrink  him- 
self almost  into  the  figure  of  a  private  gentleman,  and 

1 8  MED  IT  A  TIONS. 

yet  act,  nevertheless,  with  all  the  force  and  majesty 
of  his  character  when  the  common  weal  requires  it. 
It  is  the  favour  of  the  gods  that  I  happened  to  meet 
with  a  brother,  whose  behaviour  and  affection  is  such 
as  to  contribute  both  to  my  pleasure  and  improve- 
ment. It  is  also  their  blessing  that  my  children  were 
neither  stupid  nor  misshapen ;  that  I  made  no  far- 
ther advances  in  rhetoric,  poetry,  and  such  other- 
amusements,  which  possibly  might  have  engaged  my 
fancy  too  far,  had  I  found  myself  a  considerable  pro- 
ficient; that,  without  asking,  I  gave  my  governors 
that  share  of  honour  which  they  seemed  to  desire, 
and  did  not  put  them  off  from  time  to  time  with  pro- 
mises and  excuses,  because  they  were  yet  but  young ; 
that  I  had  the  happiness  of  being  acquainted  with 
Apollonius,  Rusticus,  and  Maximus  ;  that  I  have  a 
clear  idea  of  the  life  in  accordance  with  nature,  and 
the  impression  frequently  refreshed :  so  that,  con- 
sidering the  extraordinary  assistance  and  directions 
of  the  gods,  it  is  impossible  for  me  to  miss  the  road  of 
nature  unless  by  refusing  to  be  guided  by  the  dictates 
and  almost  sensible  inspirations  of  heaven.  It  is  by 
their  favour  that  my  constitution  has  held  out  so  well, 
under  a  life  of  fatigue  and  business  ;  that  I  never  had 
to  do  with  Benedicta  or  Theodotus  ;  and,  when  I  fell 
into  some  fits  of  love,  I  was  soon  cured ;  that  when  I 
fell  out  with  Rusticus,  as  it  frequently  happened,  I 
was  not  transported  into  any  act  of  violence ;  that  I 
had  the  satisfaction  of  my  mother's  life  and  company 
a  considerable  while,  though  she  was  destined  to  die 
young ;    that   when    I    was    willing    to    relieve    the 


necessities  of  others,  I  was  never  told  that  the 
exchequer  was  empty  ;  and,  again,  it  is  they  that  kept 
me  from  standing  in  need  of  any  man's  fortune. 
Farther,  it  is  from  them  that  my  wife  is  so  very 
obedient  and  affectionate,  and  so  remote  from  luxury ; 
that  I  had  choice  of  good  governors  for  my  children ; 
that  remedies  were  prescribed  me  in  a  dream  against 
giddiness  and  spitting  of  blood,  as  at  Cajeta,  by 
an  ointment ;  that  when  I  had  a  mind  to  look 
into  philosophy,  I  did  not  meet  with  a  sophist  to 
instruct  me ;  that  I  did  not  spend  too  much  time  in 
reading  history,  chopping  logic,  or  considering  the 
heavens.  Now  all  these  points  could  never  have  been 
compassed  without  a  protection  from  above  and  the 
gods  presiding  over  fate. 

This  %vaB  luritten  in  the  country  of  the  Quadi,  at 
the  Granua. 


BOOK    IT, 

EMEMBER  to  put  yourself  in  mind 
every  morning,  that  before  night  it 
will  be  your  luck  to  meet  with  some 
busy-body,  with  some  ungrateful, 
abusive  fellow,  with  some  knavish, 
envious,  or  unsociable  churl  or  other.  Now  all  this 
perverseness  in  them  proceeds  from  their  ignorance  of 
good  and  evil ;  and  since  it  has  fallen  to  my  share  to 
understand  the  natural  beauty  of  a  good  action,  and 
the  deformity  of  an  ill  one — since  I  am  satisfied  the 
person  disobliging  is  of  kin  to  me,  and  though  we  are 
not  just  of  the  same  flesh  and  blood,  yet  our  minds 
are  nearly  related,  being  both  extracted  from  the 
Deity — I  am  likewise  convinced  that  no  man  can  do 
me  a  real  injury,  because  no  man  can  force  me  to 
misbehave  myself,  nor  can  I  find  it  in  my  heart  to  hate 
or  to  be  angry  with  one  of  my  own  nature  and  family. 
For  we  are  all  made  for  mutual  assistance,  as  the  feet, 
the  hands,  and  the  eyelids,  as  the  rows  of  the  upper 
and  under  teeth,  from  whence  it  follows  that  clashing 
and  opposition  is  perfectly  unnatural.  Now  such  an 
unfriendly  disposition  is  implied  in  resentment  and 


2.  This  being  of  mine,  all  there  is  of  it,  consists  of 
flesh,  breath,  and  the  ruling  part.  Away  with  your 
books  then.  Suffer  not  your  mind  any  more  to 
be  distracted.  It  is  not  permitted.  As  for  your 
body,  value  it  no  more  than  if  you  were  just 
expiring.  For  what  is  it  ?  Nothing  but  a  little 
blood  and  bones ;  a  piece  of  network,  wrought 
out  of  nerves,  veins,  and  arteries  twisted  together. 
In  the  next  place,  consider  what  sort  of  thing 
your  br  3ath  is ;  why,  only  a  little  air,  and  that 
not  constant,  but  every  moment  let  out  of  your  lungs, 
and  sucked  in  again.  The  third  part  of  your  composi- 
tion is  the  ruling  part.  Now  consider  thus  :  you  are 
an  old  man :  do  not  suffer  this  noble  part  of  you  under 
servitude  any  longer.  Let  it  not  be  moved  by  the 
springs  of  selfish  passions  ;  let  it  not  quarrel  with  fate, 
be  uneasy  at  the  present,  or  afraid  of  the  future. 

8.  Providence  shines  clearly  through  the  works  of 
the  gods;  even  the  works  of  chance  are^not  without 
dependence  on  Nature,  being  only  an  effect  of  that 
chain  of  causes  which  are  under  a  providential  regula- 
tion. Indeed,  all  things  flow  from  this  fountain; 
besides,  there  is  necessity,  and  the  interest  of  the 
whole  universe,  of  which  you  are  a  part.  Now,  that 
which  is  both  the  product  and  support  of  universal 
Nature,  must  by  consequence  be  serviceable  to  every 
part  of  it ;  but  the  world  subsists  upon  change,  and  is 
preserved  by  the  mutation  of  the  simple  elements,  and 
also  of  things  mixed  and  compounded,  and  what  it 
loses  one  way  it  gets  another.  Let  these  reflections 
satisfy  you,  and  make  them  your  rule  to  live  by.     As 


for  books,  cast  away  your  thirst  after  them,  that  you 
may  not  die  complaining,  but  go  off  in  good-humour, 
and  heartily  thank  the  gods  for  what  you  have  had. 

4.  Remember  how  often  you  have  postponed  mind- 
ing your  interest,  and  let  slip  those  opportunities 
the  gods  have  given  you.  It  is  now  high  time  to 
consider  what  sort  of  world  you  are  part  of,  and 
from  what  kind  of  governor  of  it  you  are  descended  ; 
that  you  have  a  set  period  assigned  you  to  act  in, 
and  unless  you  improve  it  to  brighten  and  compose 
your  thoughts,  it  will  quickly  run  off  with  you,  and  be 
lost  beyond  recovery. 

5.  Take  care  always  to  remember  that  you  are  a 
man  and  a  E-oman  ;  and  let  every  action  be  done  with 
perfect  and  unaffected  gravity,  humanity,  freedom, 
and  justice.  And  be  sure  you  entertain  no  fancies, 
which  may  give  check  to  these  qualities.  This  is 
possible,  if  you  will  but  perform  every  action  as 
though  it  were  your  last ;  if  your  appetites  and 
passions  do  not  cross  upon  your  reason ;  if  you  keep 
clear  of  rashness,  and  have  nothing  of  insincerity 
and  self-love  to  infect  you,  and  do  not  complain  of  your 
destiny.  You  see  what  a  few  points  a  man  has  to 
gain  in  order  to  attain  to  a  godlike  way  of  living ; 
for  he  that  comes  thus  far,  performs  all  which  the 
immortal  powers  will  require  of  him. 

6.  Continue  to  dishonour  yourself,  my  soul !  Neither 
will  you  have  much  time  left  to  do  yourself  honour. 
For  the  life  of  each  man  is  almost  up  already ;  and 
yet,  instead  of  paying  a  due  regard  to  yourself,  you 
place  your  happiness  in  the  souls  of  other  men. 


7.  Do  not  let  accidents  disturb,  or  outward  objects 
engross  your  thoughts,  but  keep  your  mind  quiet  and 
disengaged,  that  you  may  be  at  leisure  to  learn  some- 
thing good,  and  cease  rambling  from  one  thing  to 
another.  There  is  likewise  another  sort  of  roving  to 
be  avoided  ;  for  some  people  are  busy  and  yet  do 
nothing  ;  they  fatigue  and  wear  themselves  out,  and 
yet  aim  at  no  goal,  nor  propose  any  general  end  of 
action  or  design. 

8.  A  man  can  rarely  be  unhappy  by  being  ignorant 
of  another's  thoughts ;  but  he  that  does  not  attend  to 
the  motions  of  his  own  is  certainly  unhappy. 

9.  These  reflections  ought  always  to  be  at  hand : — 
To  consider  well  the  nature  of  the  universe  and  my 
own  nature,  together  with  the  relation  betwixt  them, 
and  what  kind  of  part  it  is,  of  what  kind  of  whole  ; 
and  that  no  mortal  can  hinder  me  from  acting  and 
speaking  conformably  to  the  being  of  which  I  am  a  pari;. 

10.  Theophrastus,  in  comparing  the  degrees  of  faults 
(as  men  would  commonly  distinguish  them),  talks  like 
a  philosopher  when  he  affirms  that  those  instances  of 
misbehaviour  which  proceed  from  desire  are  greater 
than  those  of  which  anger  is  the  occasion.  Por  a 
man  that  is  angry  seems  to  quit  his  hold  of  reason 
unwillingly  and  with  pain,  and  start  out  of  rule  before 
he  is  aware.  But  he  that  runs  riot  out  of  desire, 
being  overcome  by  pleasure,  loses  all  hold  on  himself, 
and  all  manly  restraint.  Well,  then,  and  like  a  philo- 
sopher, he  said  that  he  of  the  two  is  the  more  to 
be  condemned  that  sins  with  pleasure  than  he  that 
sins  with  grief.     For  the  first  looks  like  an  injured 

MED  IT  A  TIONS.  2  7 

person,  and  is  vexed,  and,  as  it  were,   forced  into  a 

passion ;  whereas  the  other  begins  with   inclination, 

and  commits  the  fault  through  desire. 

11.  Manage  all  your  actions,  words,  and   thoughts 

accordingly,  since  you  may  at  any  moment  quit  life. 

And  what  great  matter  is  the  business  of  dying  ?     If 

the  gods   are   in   being,  you  can  suffer  nothing,  for 

they  will  do  you  no  harm.    And  if  they  are  not,  or  take 

no  care  of  us  mortals — why,  then,  a  world  without 

either  gods  or  Providence  is  not  worth  a  man's  while 

to  live  in.     But,  in  truth,  the  being  of  the  gods,  and 

their   concern   in   human   affairs,  is  beyond   dispute. 

And  they  have  put  it  entirely  in  a  man's  power  not  to 

fall   into   any  calamity  properly  so-called.      And   if 

other  misfortunes  had  been  really  evils,  they  would 

have  provided  against  them  too,  and  furnished  man 

with   capacity   to   avoid   them.     But   how   can   that 

which  cannot  make  the  man  worse  make  his  life  so  ? 

I  can  never  be  persuaded  that  the  universal  Nature 

neglected  these  matters  through  want  of  knowledge, 

or,  having  that,  yet  lacked  the  power  to  prevent  or 

correct  the  error ;  or  that  Nature  should  commit  such 

a  fault,  through  want  of  power   or  skill,  as  to  suffer 

things,  really  good  and  evil,  to  happen  promiscuously 

to  good  and  bad  men.    Now,  living  and  dying,  honour 

and  infamy,  pleasure  and^  pain,  riches  and  poverty — 

all   these   things   are   the  common   allotment  of   the 

virtuous    and    vicious,   because    they  have    nothing 

intrinsically   noble    or    base    in    their   nature ;    and, 

therefore,  to   speak   properly,  are   neither   good   nor 



12.  Consider  how  quickly  all  things  are  dissolved 
and  resolved ;  the  bodies  and  substances  themselves 
into  the  matter  and  substance  of  the  world,  and  their 
memories  into  its  general  age  and  time.  Consider,  too, 
the  objects  of  sense,  particularly  those  which  charm 
us  with  pleasure,  frighten  us  with  pain,  or  are  most  ad- 
mired for  empty  reputation.  The  power  of  thought  will 
show  a  man  how  insignificant,  despicable,  and  paltry 
these  things  are,  and  how  soon  they  wither  and  die.  It 
will  show  him  what  those  people  are  upon  whose 
fancy  and  good  word  the  being  of  fame  depends : 
also  the  nature  of  death,  which,  if  once  abstracted 
from  the  pomp  and  terror  of  the  idea,  will  be  found 
nothing  more  than  a  pure  natural  action.  Now  he 
that  dreads    the    course    of    nature  is  a  very  child  ; 

X  but  this  is  not  only  a  work  of  nature,  but  is  also  pro- 
fitable to  her.  Lastly,  we  should  consider  how  we  are 
related  to  the  Deity,  and  in  what  part  of  our  being, 
and  in  what  condition  of  that  part. 

13.  Nothing  can  be  more  unhappy  than  the 
curiosity  of  that  man  that  ranges  everywhere,  and 
digs  into  the  earth,  as  the  poet  says,  for  discovery  ; 
that  is  wonderfully  busy  to  force  by  conjecture  a 
passage  into  other  people's  thoughts,  but  does  not 
consider  that  it  is  sufficient  to  reverence  and  serve  the 
divinity  within  himself.  And  this  service  consists  in 
this,  that  a  man  keep  himself  pure  from  all  violent 
passion,  and  evil  affection,  from  all  rashness  and 
vanity,  and  from  all  manner  of  discontent  towards 
gods  or  men.  For  as  for  the  gods,  their  administration 
ought  to   be  revered  upon  the  score  of  excellency  ; 


and  as  for  men,  their  actions  should  be  well  taken  for 
the  sake  of  common  kindred.  Besides,  they  are  often 
to  be  pitied  for  their  ignorance  of  good  and  evil; 
which  incapacity  of  discerning  between  moral  qualities 
is  no  less  a  defect  than  that  of  a  blind  man,  who 
cannot  distinguish  between  white  and  black. 

14.  Though  you  were  to  live  three  thousand,  or,  if 
you  please,  thirty  thousand  of  years,  yet  remember 
that  no  man  can  lose  any  other  life  than  that  w^hich 
he  now  lives,  neither  is  he  possessed  of  any  other  than 
that  which  he  loses.  Whence  it  follows  that  the 
longest  life,  as  we  commonly  speak,  and  the  shortest, 
come  all  to  the  same  reckoning.  For  the  present  is 
of  the  same  duration  everywhere.  Everybody's  loss, 
therefore,  is  of  the  same  bigness,  and  reaches  no 
further  than  to  a  point  of  time,  for  no  man  is  capable 
of  losing  either  the  past  or  the  future ;  for  how  can 
one  be  deprived  of  what  he  has  not  ?  So  that  under 
this  consideration  there  are  two  notions  worth  re- 
memJbering.  One  is,  that  Nature  treads  in  a  circle,  and 
has  much  the  same  face  through  the  whole  course 
of  eternity.  And  therefore  it  signifies  not  at  all 
whether  a  man  stands  gazing  here  an  hundred,  or  two 
hundred,  or  an  infinity  of  years ;  for  all  that  he  gets 
by  it  is  only  to  see  the  same  sights  so  much  the 
cftener.  The  other  hint  is,  that  when  the  longest 
and  shortest-lived  persons  come  to  die,  their  loss  is 
equal ;  they  can  but  lose  the  present  as  being  the  only 
thing  they  have ;  for  that  which  he  has  not,  no  man 
can  be  truly  said  to  lose. 

15.  Monimus,  the  Cynic   philosopher,  used  to  say 


that  all  things  were  but  opinion.  Now  this  saying 
may  undoubtedly  prove  serviceable,  provided  one 
accepts  it  only  as  far  as  it  is  true. 

16.  There  are  several  different  ways  by  which  a 
man's  soul  may  do  violence  to  itself  ;  first  of  all,  when 
it  becomes  an  abscess,  and,  as  it  were,  an  excrescence 
on  the  universe,  as  far  as  in  it  lies.  For  to  be  vexed 
at  anything  that  happens  is  a  separation  of  ourselves 
from  nature,  in  some  part  of  which  the  natures  of  all 
other  things  are  contained.  Secondly,  it  falls  under 
the  same  misfortune  when  it  hates  any  person,  or  goes 
against  him,  with  an  intention  of  mischief,  which  is 
the  case  of  the  angry  and  revengeful.  Thirdly,  it 
wrongs  itself  when  it  is  overcome  by  pleasure  or  pain. 
Fourthly,  when  it  makes  use  of  art,  tricking,  and 
falsehood,  in  word  or  action.  Fifthly,  when  it  does 
not  know  what  it  would  be  at  in  a  business,  but  runs 
on  without  thought  or  design,  whereas  even  the  least 
undertaking  ought  to  be  aimed  at  some  end. 
Now  the  end  of  rational  beings  is  to  be  governed 
by  the  law  and  reason  of  the  most  venerable  city  and 

17.  The  extent  of  human  life  is  but  a  point ;  its 
substance  is  in  perpetual  flux,  its  perceptions  dim, 
and  the  whole  composition  of  the  body  tending  to 
corruption.  The  soul  is  but  a  whirl,  fortune  not  to  be 
guessed  at,  and  fame  undiscerning — in  a  word,  that 
which  belongs  to  the  body  is  a  flowing  river,  and  what 
the  soul  has  is  but  dream  and  bubble.  Life  is  but  a 
campaign,  or  course  of  travels,  and  after-fame  is 
oblivion.     What  is  it,  then,  that  will  stick  by  a  man  ? 


Why,  nothing  but  philosophy.  Now,  this  consists 
in  keeping  the  divinity  within  us  from  injury  and 
disgrace,  superior  to  pleasure  and  pain,  doing  nothing 
at  random,  without  any  dissembling  and  pretence,  and 
independent  of  the  motions  of  another.  Farther, 
philosophy  brings  the  mind  to  take  things  as  they 
fall,  and  acquiesce  in  their  distribution,  inasmuch  as  all 
events  proceed  from  the  same  cause  with  itself ;  and, 
above  all,  to  have  an  easy  prospect  of  death,  as  being 
nothing  more  than  a  dissolving  of  the  elements  of  which 
each  thing  is  composed.  Now,  if  the  elements  them- 
selves are  never  the  worse  for  runnino'  off  one  into 
another,  what  if  they  should  all  change  and  be  dis- 
solved ?  Why  should  any  man  be  concerned  at  the 
consequence  ?  All  this  is  but  Nature's  method  ;  now, 
Nature  never  does  any  mischief. 
Wriiian  at  Carnuntum. 



!•  B'^"')^'J^-^  ou^ht  not  only  to  remember  that  life 
is  wearing  off,  and  a  smaller  part  of  it 
is  left  daily,  but  also  to  consider  that  if 
a  man's  life  should  happen  to  be  longer 
than  ordinary,  yet  it  is  uncertain 
whether  his  mind  will  keep  pace  with  his  years,  and 
afford  him  sense  enough  for  business,  and  power  to 
contemplate  things  human  and  divine.  For  if  the  man 
begins  to  dote,  it  is  true  the  mere  animal  life  goes  on ; 
he  may  breathe,  and  be  nourished,  and  be  furnished 
with  imagination  and  appetite;  but  to  make  any  proper 
use  of  himself,  to  fill  up  the  measure  of  his  duty,  to 
distinguish  appearances,  and  to  know  whether  it  is 
time  for  him  to  walk  out  of  the  world  or  not — as  to 
all  such  noble  functions  of  reason  and  judgment,  the 
man  is  perfectly  dead  already.  It  concerns  us,  there- 
fore, to  push  forward,  and  make  the  most  of  our 
matters,  for  death  is  continually  advancing ;  and 
besides  that,  our  understanding  sometimes  dies  before 

2.  It  is  worth  while  to  observe  that  the  least 
thing  that  happens  naturally  to  things  natural  has 
something   in  itself  that  is  pleasing  and  delightful 


Thus,  for  example,  there  are  cracks  and  little  breaks 
on  the  surface  of  a  loaf,  which,  though  never  intended 
by  the  baker,  have  a  sort  of  agreeableness  in  them, 
which  invites  the  appetite.  Thus  figs,  when  they  are 
most  ripe,  open  and  gape ;  and  olives,  when  they  fall 
of  themselves  and  are  near  decaying,  are  particularly 
pretty  to  look  at.  The  bending  of  an  ear  of  corn,  the 
brow  of  a  lion,  the  foam  of  a  boar,  and  many  other  things, 
if  you  take  them  singly,  are  far  enough  from  being 
beautiful ;  but  when  they  are  looked  on  as  effects  of 
the  products  of  Nature,  help  to  adorn  and  attract. 
Thus,  if  a  man  has  but  inclination  and  thought  enough 
to  examine  the  product  of  the  universe,  he  will  find 
the  most  unpromising  appearances  in  the  results  of 
Nature  not  without  charm,  and  that  the  more  remote 
appendages  have  somewhat  to  recommend  them.  One 
thus  prepared  will  be  no  less  pleased  to  see  the  gaping 
jaws  of  living  beasts  than  the  imitations  of  painters 
and  sculptors,  and  with  chastened  eyes  he  will  find 
beauty  in  the  ripeness  of  age  as  well  as  in  the  blossom 
of  youth.  I  grant  many  of  these  things  will  not 
charm  everyone,  but  only  those  who  are  truly  in 
harmony  with  Nature  and  her  works. 

3.  Hippocrates,  who  cured  so  many  diseases,  himself 
fell  ill  and  died.  The  Chaldeans,  who  foretold  other 
people's  death,  at  last  met  with  their  own  fate. 
Alexander,  Pompey,  and  Julius  Csesar,  who  had 
destroyed  so  many  towns,  and  cut  off  so  many 
thousands  of  horse  and  foot  in  the  field,  were  forced 
at  last  to  march  off  themselves.  Heraclitus,  who 
argued  so  much  about  the  universal  conflagration,  died 


through  water  by  a  dropsy.  Democritus  was  eaten 
up  with  vermin ;  another  sort  of  vermin  destroyed 
Socrates.  What  are  these  instances  for  ?  Look  you  : 
you  have  embarked,  you  have  made  your  voyage  and 
your  port;  debark  then  without  more  ado.  If  you 
happen  to  land  upon  another  world,  there  will  be 
gods  enough  to  take  care  of  you ;  but  if  it  be  your 
fortune  to  drop  into  nothing,  why,  then  you  will  be  no 
more  solicited  with  pleasure  and  pain.  Then  you  will 
have  done  drudging  for  your  outer  covering,  which  is 
the  more  unworthy  in  proportion  as  that  which  serves 
it  is  worthy ;  for  the  one  is  all  soul,  intelligence,  and 
divinity,  whereas  the  other  is  but  dirt  and  corruption. 
4.  For  the  future,  do  not  spend  your  thoughts 
upon  other  people,  unless  you  are  led  to  it  by  common 
interest.  For  the  prying  into  foreign  business — that 
is,  musing  upon  the  talk,  fancies,  and  contrivances  of 
another,  and  guessing  at  the  what  and  why  of  his 
actions — does  but  make  a  man  forget  himself,  and 
ramble  from  his  own  guiding  principle.  He  ought, 
therefore,  not  to  work  his  mind  to  no  purpose,  nor 
throw  a  superfluous  link  into  the  chain  of  thought; 
and  more  especially,  to  avoid  curiosit}^  and  malice  in 
his  inquiry.  Accustom  yourself,  therefore,  to  think 
upon  nothing  but  what  you  could  freely  reveal,  if  the 
question  were  put  to  you ;  so  that  if  your  soul  were 
thus  laid  open,  there  would  nothing  appear  but  what 
was  sincere,  good-natured,  and  public-spirited — not 
so  much  as  one  voluptuous  or  luxurious  fancy,  nothing 
of  hatred,  envy,  or  unreasonable  suspicion,  nor  aught 
else  which  you  could  not  bring  to  the  light  without 


blushing.  A  man  thus  qualified,  who  does  not  delay- 
to  assume  the  first  rank  among  mortals,  is  a  sort  of 
priest  and  minister  of  the  gods,  and  makes  a  right  use 
of  the  Deity  within  him.  By  the  assistance  thereof, 
he  is  preserved,  uninfected  with  pleasure,  invulnerable 
against  pain — out  of  the  reach  of  injury,  and  above 
the  malice  of  evil  people.  Thus  he  wrestles  in  the 
noblest  fight,  to  hold  his  own  against  all  his  passions ; 
and  penetrated  with  the  spirit  of  justice,  welcomes  with 
his  whole  heart  all  that  happens  and  is  allotted  to 
him.  He  never  minds  other  people's  speech,  thoughts, 
or  actions,  unless  public  necessity  and  general  good 
require  it.  No;  he  keeps  himself  to  his  own  busi- 
ness, and  contemplates  that  portion  of  the  whole 
allotted  him  by  the  fates,  and  endeavours  to  do  the 
first  as  it  should  be,  and  believes  that  his  lot  is  good. 
For  every  man's  fate  is  suitable,  since  it  is  suited  to 
him.  He  considers  that  the  rational  principle  is  akin 
in  all  men,  and  that  general  kindness  and  concern  for 
the  whole  world  is  no  more  than  a  piece  of  human 
nature — that  not  every  one's  good  opinion  is  not  worth 
the  gaining,  but  only  that  of  those  who  seek  to  live 
in  accordance  with  Nature.  As  for  others,  he  knows 
their  way  of  living,  both  at  home  and  abroad,  by  day 
and  by  night,  and  their  companions  in  their  evil  way 
of  life,  and  he  bears  it  in  mind.  And,  why,  indeed, 
should  he  value  the  commendation  of  such  people, 
who  are  not  able  even  to  please  themselves  ? 

5.  Be  not  unwilling,  selfish,  unadvised,  or  pas- 
sionate in  anything  you  do.  Do  not  affect  quaint- 
ness  and  points  of  wit :  neither  talk  nor  meddle  more 


than  is  necessary.  Take  care  that  the  divinity  within 
you  has  a  creditable  charge  to  preside  over;  that  you 
appear  in  the  character  of  your  sex  and  age.  Act  like 
a  Roman  Emperor  that  loves  his  country,  and  be 
always  in  a  readiness  to  quit  the  field  at  the  first 
summons ;  and  ere  you  claim  your  discharge,  manage 
your  credit  so,  that  you  need  neither  swear  yourself 
nor  want  a  voucher.  Let  your  air  be  cheerful ;  depend 
not  upon  external  supports,  nor  beg  your  tranquillity 
of  another.  And,  in  a  word,  never  throw  away  your 
legs,  to  stand  upon  crutches. 

6.  If,  in  the  whole  compass  of  human  life,  you  find 
anything  preferable  to  justice  and  truth ;  to  temperance 
and  fortitude ;  to  a  mind  self-satisfied  with  its  ow^n 
rational  conduct,  and  entirely  resigned  to  fate — if,  I 
say,  you  know  anything  better  than  this,  turn  to  it 
with  your  whole  soul,  and  enjoy  it,  accounting  it  the 
best.  But  if  there  is  nothing  more  valuable  than  the 
divinity  implanted  within  you,  and  this  is  master  of 
its  appetites,  examines  all  impressions,  and  has 
detached  itself  from  the  senses,  as  Socrates  used  to 
say,  and  shows  itself  submissive  to  the  government  of 
the  gods,  and  helpful  and  benevolent  to  mankind — if 
all  things  are  trifles  compared  with  this,  give  way  to 
nothing  else.  For  if  you  are  once  inclined  to  any 
such  thing,  it  will  no  longer  be  in  your  power  to  give 
your  undivided  preference  to  what  is  your  own 
peculiar  good,  for  it  is  not  lawful  that  anything  of 
another  kind  or  nature,  as  either  popular  applause,  or 
power,  or  riches,  or  pleasures,  should  be  sufifered  to 
contest  with  what  is  rationally  and  politically  good. 


All  these  things,  if  but  for  a  while  they  begin  to 
please,  presently  prevail,  and  pervert  a  man's  mind. 
Let  your  choice  therefore  run  all  one  way,  and  be  bold 
and  resolute  for  that  which  is  best.  Now  what  is 
profitable  is  best.  If  that  means  profitable  to  man  as 
he  is  a  rational  being,  stand  to  it ;  but  if  it  means 
profitable  to  him  as  a  mere  animal,  reject  it,  and  keep 
your  judgment  without  arrogance.  Only  take  care  to 
make  inquiry  secure. 

7.  Think  nothing  for  your  interest  which  makes 
you  break  your  word,  quit  your  modesty,  hate,  suspect, 
or  curse  any  person,  or  inclines  you  to  any  practice 
which  will  not  bear  the  light  and  look  the  world  in 
the  face.  For  he  that  values  his  mind  and  the  worship 
of  his  divinity  before  all  other  things,  need  act  no 
tragic  part,  laments  under  no  misfortune,  and  wants 
neither  solitude  nor  company  ;  and,  which  is  still  more, 
he  will  neither  fly  from  life  nor  pursue  it,  but  is 
perfectly  indifferent  about  the  length  or  shortness  of 
the  time  in  which  his  soul  shall  be  encompassed  by 
his  body.  And  if  he  were  to  expire  this  moment,  he 
is  as  ready  for  it  as  for  any  other  action  that  may 
be  performed  with  modesty  and  decency.  For  all  his 
life  long,  this  is  his  only  care — that  his  mind  may 
always  be  occupied  as  befits  a  rational  and  social 

8.  If  you  examine  a  man  that  has  been  well- 
disciplined  and  purified  by  philosophy,  you  will  find 
nothing  that  is  unsound,  foul,  or  false  in  him.  Death 
can  never  surprise  his  life  as  imperfect,  so  that 
nobody  can  say  he  goes  oflT  the  stage  before  his  part  is 


quite  played.  Besides,  there  is  in  him  nothing  servile 
or  affected  ;  he  neither  attaches  himself  too  closely 
to  others,  nor  keeps  aloof  from  them ;  he  is  neither 
responsible  to  them,  nor  does  he  avoid  them. 

9.  Hold  in  honour  your  opinionative  faculty,  for  this 
alone  is  able  to  prevent  any  opinion  from  originating 
in  your  guiding  principle  that  is  contrary  to  Nature 
or  the  proper  constitution  of  a  rational  creature.  Now, 
a  rational  constitution  eojoins  us  to  do  nothing  rashly, 
and  to  be  kindly  disposed  towards  men,  and  to  submit 
willingly  to  the  gods. 

10.  As  for  other  speculations,  throw  them  all  out 
of  your  head,  excepting  those  few  precepts  above 
mentioned — remembering  withal,  that  every  man's 
life  lies  all  within  the  present,  which  is  but  a  point  of 
time ;  for  the  past  is  spent,  and  the  future  is 
uncertain.  Life  moves  in  a  very  narrow  compass; 
yes,  and  men  live  in  a  small  corner  of  the  world 
too.  And  the  most  lasting  fame  will  stretch  but 
to  a  sorry  extent ;  for,  alas !  poor  transitory  mortals 
who  hand  it  down  know  little  even  of  themselves, 
much  less  of  those  who  died  long  before  their  time. 

11.  To  the  foregoing  hints  you  may  add  this  which 
follows : — make  for  yourself  a  particular  description 
and  definition  of  every  object  that  presents  itself 
to  your  mind,  that  you  may  thoroughly  contem- 
plate it  in  its  own  nature,  bare  and  naked,  wholly 
and  separately.  And  in  your  own  mind  call  itself 
and  the  parts  of  which  it  is  composed,  and  into 
which  it  will  be  resolved,  by  its  own  and  proper 
name ;  for   nothing   is   so   likely  to   raise   the    mind 


to  a  pitch  of  greatness  as  the  power  truly  and 
methodically  to  examine  and  consider  all  things  that 
happen  in  this  life,  and  so  to  penetrate  into  their 
natures  as  to  apprehend  at  once  what  sort  of  purpose 
each  thing  serves,  and  what  sort  of  universe  makes  use 
of  it — what  value  it  bears  to  the  whole,  and  what  to 
man,  who  is  a  citizen  of  that  great  capital,  in  respect 
of  which  all  other  towns  are  no  more  than  single 
families — what  is  this  object  which  makes  an  im- 
pression on  me ;  how  long  can  it  last ;  what  virtue 
does  it  require  of  me;  is  it  good-nature,  fortitude, 
truth,  simplicity,  self-sufficiency,  or  any  of  the  rest  ? 
On  each  occasion  a  man  should  be  ready  to  pronounce, 
"  This  was  sent  me  by  heaven,  this  by  destiny,  or  the 
combinations  of  fate,  or  by  one  of  the  same  clan, 
or  family,  or  company  as  myself,  who  knows  not 
what  is  natural  for  him.  But  I  do  know;  therefore  I 
am  just  and  friendly  to  him,  and  treat  him  according 
to  the  natural  laws  of  our  communion.  However,  in 
things  indifferent  I  take  care  to  rate  them  according 
to  their  respective  value." 

12.  If  you  will  be  governed  by  reason,  and  manage 
what  lies  before  you  with  industry,  vigour,  and 
temper ;  if  you  will  not  run  out  after  new  distraction, 
but  keep  your  divinity  pure,  even  as  though  you  must 
at  once  render  it  up  again,  your  mind  staunch  and 
well  disciplined,  as  if  this  trial  of  behaviour  were  your 
last ;  and,  if  you  will  but  cleave  to  this,  and  be 
true  to  the  best  of  yourself,  fearing  and  desiring 
nothing,  but  living  up  to  your  nature,  standing  boldly 
by  the  truth  of  your  word,  and  satisfied  therewith. 


then  you  will  be  a  happy  man.     But  the  whole  world 
cannot  hinder  j^ou  from  so  doing. 

13.  As  surgeons  always  have  their  instruments  and 
knives  ready  for  sudden  occasions,  so  be  you  always 
furnished  with  rules  and  principles  to  let  you  into 
the  knowledge  of  things  human  and  divine,  remem- 
bering even  in  your  slightest  action  the  connection 
these  two  have  with  each  other.  For  without  a 
regard  for  things  divine,  you  will  fail  in  your 
behaviour  towards  men  ;  and  again,  the  reasoning 
holds  for  the  other  side  of  the  argument. 

14.  Wander  at  random  no  longer.  Alas  !  you  have 
no  time  left  to  peruse  your  diary,  to  read  over  the 
Greek  and  Roman  history,  or  so  much  as  your  own 
commonplace  book,  which  you  collected  to  serve  you 
when  vou  were  old.  Hasten  then  towards  the  ojoal.  Do 
not  flatter  and  deceive  yourself.  Come  to  your  own 
aid  while  yet  you  may,  if  you  have  a  kindness  for 

15.  Men  do  not  know  in  how  many  senses  they 
can  take  the  words  to  steal,  to  buy,  to  soiu,  to  be  quiet, 
to  see  what  should  be  done ;  for  this  is  not  effected  by 
eyes,  but  by  another  kind  of  vision. 

16.  There  are  three  things  which  belong  to  a  man — 
body,  soul,  and  mind.  Sensation  belongs  to  the  body, 
impulse  to  the  soul,  and  reason  to  the  mind.  To  have 
the  senses  stamped  with  the  impression  of  an  object 
is  common  to  brutes  and  cattle ;  to  be  hurried  and 
convulsed  with  passion  is  the  quality  of  beasts  of 
prey  and  men  of  pleasure — such  as  Phalaris  and  Nero 
— of  atheists  and  traitors,  too,  and  of  those  who  do 



not  care  what  they  do  when  no  man  sees  them.  Now, 
since  these  qualities  are  common,  let  us  find  out  the 
mark  of  a  man  of  probity.  His  distinction,  then,  lies 
in  letting  reason  guide  his  practice,  in  contentment 
with  all  that  is  allotted  him,  keeping  pure  the  divinity 
within  him,  untroubled  by  a  crowd  of  appearances, 
preserving  it  tranquil,  and  obeying  it  as  a  god.  He  is 
all  truth  in  his  words  and  justice  in  his  actions ;  and 
if  the  whole  world  should  disbelieve  his  integrity, 
dispute  his  character,  and  question  his  happiness,  he 
would  neither  take  it  ill  in  the  least,  nor  turn  aside 
from  that  path  that  leads  to  the  aim  of  life,  towards 
which  he  must  move  pure,  calm,  well -prepared,  and 
with  perfect  resignation  in  his  fate, 



''HEN  the  mind  acts  up  to  Nature,  she  is 
rightly  disposed,  and  takes   things  as 

they  come,  and  tacks  about  with  her 
circumstances;  as  for  fixing  the  con- 
dition of  her  activity,  she  is  not  at  all  solicitous  about 
that.  It  is  true,  she  is  not  perfectly  indifferent ;  she 
moves  forward  with  a  preference  in  her  choice ;  but  if 
anything  comes  cross,  she  falls  to  work  upon  it,  and 
like  fire  converts  it  into  fuel ;  for  like  this  element, 
when  it  is  weak,  it  is  easily  put  out,  but  when  once 
well  kindled  it  seizes  upon  what  is  heaped  upon  it, 
subdues  it  into  its  own  nature,  and  increases  by 
resistance . 

2.  Let  every  action  tend  to  some  point,  and  be 
perfect  in  its  kind. 

3.  It  is  the  custom  of  people  to  go  to  unfrequented 
places  and  country  places  and  the  sea-shore  and  the 
mountains  for  retirement;  and  this  you  often  earnestly 
desired.  But,  after  all,  this  is  but  a  vulgar  fancy, 
for  it  is  in  your  power  to  withdraw  into  yourself 
whenever  you  desire.  Now  one's  own  mind  is  a  place 
the  most  free  from  crowd  and  noise  in  the  world,  if 
a  man's  thoughts  are  such  as  to  ensure  him  perfect 

4^  '      Meditations. 

tranquillity  within,  and  this  tranquillity  consists  in  the 
good  ordering  of  the  mind.  Your  way  is,  therefore, 
to  make  frequent  use  of  this  retirement,  and  refresh 
your  virtue  in  it.  And  to  this  end,  be  always  pro- 
vided with  a  few  short,  uncontested  notions,  to  keep 
your  understanding  true,  and  send  you  back  content 
with  the  business  to  which  you  return.  For  instance  : 
What  is  it  that  troubles  you  ?  It  is  the  wickedness  of 
the  world.  If  this  be  your  case,  out  with  your  anti- 
dote, and  consider  that  rational  beino-s  were  made  for 
mutual  aivantage,  that^forbearance  is  one  part  of 
justice,  and  that  people  misbehave  themselves  against 
their  will.  Consider,  likewise,  how  many  men  have 
embroiled  themselves,  and  spent  their  days  in  dis- 
putes, suspicion,  and  animosities  ;  and  now  they  are 
dead,  and  burnt  to  ashes.  Be  quiet,  then,  and  disturb 
yourself  no  more.  But,  it  may  be,  the  distribution  of 
the  world  does  not  please  you.  Recall  the  alternative, 
and  argue  thus  :  either  Providence  or  atoms  rule  the 
universe.  Besides,  you  may  recall  the  proofs  that  the 
world  is,  as  it  were,  one  great  city  and  corporation. 
But  possibly  the  ill  state  of  your  health  afflicts  you. 
Pray  reflect,  your  intellect  is  not  affected  by  the 
roughness  or  smoothness  of  the  currents  of  sensation, 
if  she  will  retire  and  take  a  view  of  her  own  privi- 
lege and  power.  And  when  she  has  done  this, 
recollect  the  philosophy  about  pleasure  and  pain,  to 
which  you  have  even  now  listened  and  assented. 
Well !  it  may  be  the  concern  of  fame  sits  hard  upon 
you.  If  you  are  pinched  here,  consider  how  quickly 
all  things  vanish,  and  are  forgotten — what  an  immense 


chaos  there  stands  on  either  side  of  eteruity.  Ap- 
plause !  consider  the  emptiness  of  the  sound,  the 
precarious  tenure,  the  little  judgment  of  those  that 
give  it  us,  and  the  narrow  compass  it  is  confined  to  ; 
for  the  whole  globe  is  but  a  point;  and  of  this  little, 
how  small  is  your  habitation,  and  how  insignificant 
the  number  and  quality  of  your  admirers.  Upon  the 
whole,  do  not  forget  to  retire  into  the  little  realm  of 
your  own.  And,  above  all  things,  let  there  be  no 
straining  nor  struggling  in  the  case,  but  move  freely, 
and  contemplate  matters  like  a  human  being,  a  citizen, 
and  a  mortal.  And  among  the  rest  of  your  stock,  let 
these  two  maxims  be  always  ready  :  first,  that  things 
cannot  disturb  the  soul,  but  remain  motionless  with- 
out, while  disturbance  springs  from  the  opinion  within 
the  soul.  The  second  is,  to  consider  that  the  scene  is 
just  shifting  and  sliding  off  into  nothing ;  and  that 
you  yourself  have  seen  abundance  of  great  alterations. 
In  a  word,  the  world  is  all  transformation,  and  life  is 

4.  If  the  faculty  of  understanding  lies  in  common 
amongst  us  all,  then  reason,  the  cause  of  it,  must  be 
common  too  ;  and  that  other  reason  too  which  governs 
practice  by  commands  and  prohibitions.  From 
whence  we  may  conclude,  that  mankind  are  under  one 
common  law  ;  and  if  so,  they  must  be  fellow-citizens, 
and  belong  to  some  body  politic.  From  whence  it 
Avill  follow,  that  the  whole  world  is  but  one  common- 
wealth ;  for  certainly  there  is  no  other  society  in 
which  mankind  can  be  incorporated.  Now  this 
common  fund   of  understanding,  reason,  and  law  is  a 

50  •        MEDITATIONS. 

commodity  of  this  same  country,  or  wliicli  way  do 
mortals  light  on  it  ?  For  as  the  four  distinctions  in 
my  body  belong  to  some  general  head  and  species  of 
matter;  for  instance,  the  earthy  part  in  me  comes 
from  the  division  of  earth ;  the  watery  belongs  to 
another  element ;  the  airy  particles  flow  from  a  third 
spring,  and  those  of  fire  from  one  distinct  from  all 
the  former  (for  nothing  can  no  more  produce  some- 
thing, than  something  can  sink  into  nothing)  ;  thus 
it  is  evident  that  our  understanding  must  proceed 
from  some  source  or  other. 

5.  Death  and  generation  are  both  mysteries  of 
nature,  and  somewhat  resemble  each  other  ;  for  the 
first  does  but  dissolve  those  elements  the  latter  had 
combined.  Now  there  is  nothing  that  a  man  need  be 
ashamed  of  in  all  this  ;  nothing  that  is  opposed  to 
his  nature  as  a  rational  being,  and  to  the  design  of 
his  constitution. 

6.  Practices  and  dispositions  are  generally  of  a 
piece ;  such  usage  from  such  sort  of  men  is  in  a 
manner  necessary.  To  be  surprised  at  it,  is  in 
effect  to  wonder  that  the  fig-tree  yields  juice.  Pray 
consider  that  both  you  and  your  enemy  are  dropping 
off,  and  that  ere  long  your  very  memories  will  be 

7.  Do  not  suppose  you  are  hurt,  and  your  complaint 
ceases.  Cease  your  complaint,  and  you  are  not 

8.  That  which  does  not  make  a  man  worse,  does 
not  make  his  life  worse  ;  and  by  consequence  he  has 
no  harm  either  within  or  without. 


9.  The  nature  of  the  geaeral  good  was  obliged  to 
act  in  this  manner. 

1  U.  Take  notice  that  all  events  turn  out  justly,  and 
that  if  you  observe  nicely,  you  will  not  only  perceive  a 
connection  between  causes  and  effects,  but  a  sovereign 
distribution  of  justice,  which  presides  in  the  adminis- 
tration, and  gives  everything  its  due.  Observe,  then, 
as  you  have  begun,  and  let  all  your  actions  answer 
the  character  of  a  good  man — I  mean  a  good  man  in 
the  strictness  and  notion  of  philosophy. 

11.  If  a  man  affronts  you,  do  not  accept  his  opinion 
or  think  just  as  he  w^ould  have  you  do.  No,  look 
upon  things  as  reality  presents  them. 

12.  Be  always  provided  with  principles  for  these 
two  purposes  : — First,  To  engage  in  nothing  but  what 
reason  dictates,  what  the  sovereign  and  legislative 
part  of  you  shall  suggest,  for  the  interest  of  mankind. 
Secondly,  To  be  disposed  to  quit  your  opinion,  and 
alter  your  measures,  when  a  friend  shall  give  you 
good  grounds  for  so  doing.  But  then  the  reasons  of 
changing  your  mind  ought  to  be  drawn  from  some 
consideration  regarding  justice  and  public  good,  or 
some  such  generous  motive,  and  not  because  it  pleases 
your  fancy,  or  promotes  your  reputation. 

13.  Have  you  any  sense  in  your  head?  Yes. 
Why  do  you  not  make  use  of  it  then  ?  For  if  this 
faculty  does  bat  do  its  part,  I  cannot  see  what  more 
you  need  wish  for. 

14.  At  present  your  nature  is  distinct ;  but  ere 
long  you  will  vanish  into  the  whole.  Or,  rather,  you 
will  be  returned  into  that  universal  reason  which  gave 
you  your  being. 


15.  When  frankincense  is  thrown  upon  the  altar, 
one  grain  usually  falls  before  another  ;  but  it  makes 
no  difference. 

16.  Do  but  return  to  the  principles  of  wisdom,  and 
those  who  take  you  now  for  a  monkey  or  a  wild  beast, 
will  make  a  god  of  you  in  a  week's  time. 

17.  Do  not  act  as  if  you  had  ten  thousand  years  to 
throw  away.  Death  stands  at  3^our  elbow.  Be  good 
for  something,  while  you  live  and  it  is  in  your  power. 

18.  What  a  great  deal  of  time  and  ease  that  man 
gains  who  lets  his  neighbour's  words,  thoughts,  and 
behaviour  alone,  confines  his  inspections  to  himself, 
and  takes  care  that  his  own  actions  are -honest  and 
righteous.  "  Truly,"  as  Agathon  observes,  "  we  should 
not  wander  thus,  but  run  straight  to  the  goal  with- 
out rambling  and  impertinence." 

19.  He  that  is  so  very  solicitous  about  being 
talked  of  when  he  is  dead,  and  makes  his  memory  his 
inclination,  does  not  consider  that  all  who  knew^  him 
will  quickly  be  gone.  That  his  fame  will  grow 
less  in  the  next  generation,  and  flag  upon  the 
course  ;  and  handed  from  one  to  another  by  men 
who  eagerly  desire  it  themselves,  and  are  quenched 
themselves,  it  will  be  quenched  at  last ;  but  granting 
your  memory  and  your  men  immortal,  what  is  their 
panegyric  to  you  ?  I  do  not  sa}^,  when  you  are  dead, 
but  if  you  were  living,  what  would  commendation 
signify,  unless  for  some  reason  of  utility  ?  To  con- 
clude ;  if  3^ou  depend  thus  servilely  upon  the  good 
word  of  other  people,  you  will  be  unworthy  of  your 


20.  Whatever  is  good  has  that  quality  from  itself; 
it  is  finished  by  its  own  nature,  and  commendation  is 
no  part  of  it.  Why,  then,  a  thing  is  neither  better 
nor  worse  for  being  praised.  This  holds  concerning 
things  which  are  called  good  in  the  common  way  of 
speaking,  as  the  products  of  nature  and  art ;  what  do 
you  think,  then,  of  that  which  deserves  this  character 
in  the  strictest  propriety  ?  It  wants  nothing  foreign 
to  complete  the  idea  any  more  than  law,  truth,  good 
nature,  and  sobriety.  Do  any  of  these  virtues  stand 
in  need  of  a  good  word,  or  are  they  the  worse  for  a 
bad  one?  I  hope  an  emerald  will  shine  nevertheless 
for  a  man's  being  silent  about  the  worth  of  it. 
Neither  is  there  any  necessity  of  praising  gold,  ivory, 
purple,  a  lyre,  a  dagger,  a  little  flower,  or  a  shrub. 

21.  If  human  souls  have  a  being  after  death,  which 
way  has  the  air  made  room  for  them  from  all  eternity  ? 
Pray,  how  has  the  earth  been  capacious  enough  to  re- 
ceive all  the  bodies  buried  in  it  ?  The  resolution  of 
this  latter  question  will  satisfy  the  former.  For  as  a 
corpse  after  some  continuance  by  change  and  dissolu- 
tion makes  way  for  another,  so  when  a  man  dies, 
and  the  spirit  is  let  loose  into  the  air,  it  holds  out  for 
some  time,  after  which  it  is  changed,  diifused,  and 
kindled  in  flame,  or  else  absorbed  into  the  generative 
principle  of  the  universe.  And  thus  they  make  room 
for  succession.  And  this  may  serve  for  an  answer 
upon  the  supposition  of  the  soul's  surviving  the  body. 
Besides,  we  are  not  only  to  consider  the  vast  number 
of  bodies  disposed  of  in  the  manner  above  mentioned ; 
but  what  an   infinite  number  are  every  day  devoured 

54  Meditations. 

by  mankind,  and  other  living  creatures,  and  as  it  were 
buried  in  their  bodies.  And  yet  by  the  transmutation 
of  the  food  into  blood,  or  into  fire  and  air,  there  is 
space  enough.  And  now  which  way  can  a  man  in- 
vestigate the  truth  ?  Why,  in  order  to  this,  he  must 
divide  the  thing  in  question  into  the  causal  and 
material  elements. 

22.  Do  not  run  riot ;  keep  your  intentions  honest, 
and  your  convictions  sure. 

23.  Whatever  is  agreeable  to  you,  0  Universe,  is  so 
to  me  too.  Nothing  is  early  or  late  for  me  that  is 
seasonable  for  you.  Everything  is  fruit  for  me  which 
your  seasons  bring,  oh  Nature.  From  you  all  things 
proceed,  subsist  in  you,  and  return  to  you.  And  if 
the  poet  said,  ''  Dear  City  of  Cecrops,"  may  we  not 
also  say,  "  Dear  City  of  God  "  ? 

24.  *'  If  you  would  live  at  your  ease,"  says  Demo- 
critus,  "manage  but  a  few  things."  I  think  it  had 
been  better  if  he  had  said,  *'  Do  nothing  but  what  is 
necessary  ;  and  what  becomes  the  reason  of  a  social 
being,  and  in  the  order  too  it  prescribes  it."  For  by 
this  rule  a  man  has  the  double  pleasure  of  making  his 
actions  good  and  few  into  the  bargain.  For  the 
greater  part  of  what  we  say  and  do,  being  unnecessary, 
if  this  were  but  once  retrenched,  we  should  have  both 
more  leisure  and  less  disturbance.  And  therefore 
before  a  man  sets  forward  he  should  ask  himself  this 
question,  *'  Am  I  not  upon  the  verge  of  something 
unnecessary  ?"  Farther,  we  should  apply  this  hint  to 
what  we  think,  as  well  as  to  what  we  do.  For  imper- 
tinence of  thought  draws  unnecessary  action  after  it. 


25.  Make  an  experiment  upon  yourself,  and 
examine  your  proficiency  in  a  life  of  virtue.  Try  how 
you  can  acquiesce  in  your  fate,  and  whether  your  own 
honesty  and  good  nature  will  content  you. 

26.  Have  you  seen  this  side?  Pray  view  the 
other  too.  Never  be  disturbed,  but  let  your  purpose 
be  single.  Is  any  man  guilty  of  a  fault  ?  It  is  to 
himself  then.  Has  any  advantage  happened  to  you  ? 
It  is  the  bounty  of  fate.  It  was  all  of  it  preordained 
you  by  the  universal  cause,  and  woven  in  your  destiny 
from  the  beginning.  On  the  whole,  life  is  but  short, 
therefore  be  just  and  prudent,  and  make  the  most  of 
it.  And  when  you  divert  yourself,  be  always  upon 
3'our  guard. 

27.  The  world  is  either  the  effect  of  contrivance  or 
chance  ;  if  the  latter,  it  is  a  world  for  all  that,  that  is 
to  say,  it  is  a  regular  and  beautiful  structure.  Now 
can  any  man  discover  symmetry  in  his  own  shape,  and 
yet  take  the  universe  for  a  heap  of  disorder  ?  I  say 
the  universe,  in  which  the  very  discord  and  confusion 
of  the  elements  settles  into  harmony  and  order. 

28.  A  black  character,  an  effeminate  character,  an 
obstinate  character,  brutish,  savage,  childish,  silly, 
false,  scurrilous,  mercenary,  tyrannical. 

29.  Not  to  know  what  is  in  the  world,  and  not  to 
know  what  is  done  in  the  world,  comes  much  to  the 
same  thing,  and  a  man  is  one  way  no  less  a  stranger 
than  the  other.  He  is  no  better  than  a  deserter  that 
flies  from  public  law.  He.  is  a  blind  man  that  shuts 
the  eyes  of  his  understanding ;  and  he  is  a  beggar 
that  is  not  furnished  at  home,  but  wants  the  assistance 


of  another.  He  that  frets  himself  because  things 
do  not  happen  just  as  he  would  have  them,  and  secedes 
and  separates  himself  from  the  law  of  universal 
nature,  is  but  a  sort  of  an  ulcer  of  the  world,  never 
considering  that  the  same  cause  which  produced  the 
displeasing  accident  made  him  too.  And  lastly,  he 
that  is  selfish,  and  cuts  off  his  own  soul  from  the 
universal  soul  of  all  rational  beings,  is  a  kind  of 
voluntary  outlaw. 

30.  This  philosopher  has  never  a  tunic  to  his  coat, 
the  other  never  a  book  to  read,  and  a  third  is  half 
naked,  and  yet  they  are  none  of  them  discouraged. 
One  learned  man  says,  ''  I  have  no  bread,  yet  I  abide 
by  reason."  Another,  ''  I  have  no  profit  of  my  learn- 
ing, yet  I  too  abide  by  reason." 

31.  Be  satisfied  with  your  business,  and  learn  to 
love  what  you  were  bred  to  ;  and  as  to  the  remainder 
of  your  life,  be  entirely  resigned,  and  let  the  gods  do 
their  pleasure  with  your  body  and  your  soul.  And 
when  this  is  done,  be  neither  slave  nor  tyrant  to 

32.  To  begin  somewhere,  consider  how  the  world 
went  in  Vespasian's  time ;  consider  this,  I  say,  and 
you  will  find  mankind  just  at  the  same  pass  they  are 
now  :  some  marrying  and  some  concerned  in  educa- 
tion, some  sick  and  some  dying,  some  fighting  and 
some  feasting,  some  drudging  at  the  plough  and  some 
upon  the  exchange ;  some  too  affable  and  some 
overgrown  with  conceit ;  one  full  of  jealousy  and 
the  other  of  knavery.  Here  you  might  find  a  group 
wishing  for   the    leath   of  their  friends,  and   there  a 


seditious  club  complaining  of  the  times.  Some  were 
lovers  and  some  misers,  some  grasped  at  the  consul- 
ship and  some  at  the  sceptre.  Well  !  all  is  over 
with  that  generation  long  since.  Come  forward  then 
to  the  reign  of  Trajan.  Now  here  you  will  find 
the  same  thing,  but  they  are  all  gone  too.  Go  on 
with  the  contemplation,  and  carry  it  to  other  times 
and  countries,  and  here  you  will  see  abundance  of 
people  very  busy  with  their  projects,  who  are  quickly 
resolved  into  their  elements.  More  particularly  re- 
collect those  within  your  own  memory,  who  have  been 
hurried  on  in  these  vain  pursuits  ;  how  they  have 
overlooked  the  dignity  of  their  nature,  and  neglected 
to  hold  fast  to  that,  and  be  satisfied  with  it.  And 
here  you  must  remember  to  proportion  your  concern 
to  the  weight  and  importance  of  each  action.  Thus, 
if  you  refrain  from  trifling,  you  may  part  with  amuse- 
ments without  regret. 

33.  Those  words  which  were  formerly  current  are 
now  become  obsolete.  Alas  !  this  is  not  all ;  fame 
tarnishes  in  time  too,  and  men  grow  out  of  fashion 
as  well  as  language.  Those  celebrated  names  of 
Camillus,  Cseso,  Yolesus,  and  Leonnatus  are  antiquated. 
Those  of  Scipio,  Cato,  and  Augustas  will  soon  have  the 
same  fortune,  and  those  of  Hadrian  and  Antoninus  must 
follow.  All  these  things  are  transitory,  and  quickly 
become  as  a  tale  that  is  told,  and  are  swallowed  uj) 
in  oblivion.  I  speak  this  of  those  who  have  been  the 
wonder  of  their  age  and  who  shone  with  unusual  lustre. 
But  as  for  the  r^st,  they  are  no  sooner  dead  than  for- 
gotten.     Aud   after   all,    what   does   fame  everlasting 


mean  ?  Mere  vanity.  What  then  is  it  that  is  worth 
one's  while  to  be  concerned  for  ?  Why  nothing  but 
this  :  to  bear  an  honest  mind,  to  act  for  the  good  of 
society,  to  deceive  nobody,  to  welcome  everything 
that  happens  as  necessary  and  familiar,  and  flowing 
from  a  like  source. 

34.  Put  yourself  frankly  into  the  hands  of  fate, 
and  let  her  spin  you  out  what  fortune  she  pleases. 

35.  He  that  does  a  memorable  action,  and  those 
that  report  it,  are  all  but  short-lived  things. 

36.  Accustom  yourself  to  consider  that  whatever 
is  produced,  is  produced  by  alteration ;  that  nature 
loves  nothing  so  much  as  changing  existing  things, 
and  producing  new  ones  like  them.  For  that  which 
exists  at  present  is,  as  it  were,  the  seed  of  what  shall 
spring  from  it.  But  if  you  take  seed  in  the  common 
notion,  and  confine  it  to  the  field  or  the  womb,  you 
have  a  dull  fancy. 

37.  You  are  just  taking  leave  of  the  world,  and 
yet  you  have  not  done  with  unnecessary  desires.  Are 
you  not  yet  above  disturbance  and  suspicion,  and  fully 
convinced  that  nothing  without  can  hurt  you  ?  You 
have  not  yet  learned  to  be  friends  with  everybody, 
and  that  to  be  an  honest  man  is  the  only  way  to  be  a 
wise  one. 

38.  To  understand  th«  true  quality  of  people,  you 
must  look  into  their  minds,  and  examine  their  pursuits 
and  aversions. 

39.  Your  pain  cannot  originate  in  another  man's 
mind,  nor  in  any  change  or  transformation  of  your 
corporeal  covering.      Where  then  does  it  lie  ?     Why, 

Me£>ITATIONS.  59 

ID  that  part  of  you  that  forms  j  adgments  about  things 
evil.  Do  not  imagine  you  are  hurt,  and  you  are 
impregnable.  Suppose  then  your  flesh  was  hacked, 
burnt,  putrified,  or  mortified,  yet  let  that  part  that 
judges  keep  quiet ;  that  is,  do  not  conclude  that  what 
is  common  to  good  or  ill  men  can  be  good  or  evil  in 
itself.  For  that  which  may  be  everybody's  lot,  must 
in  its  own  nature  be  indifferent. 

40.  You  ought  frequently  to  consider  that  the 
world  is  an  animal,  consisting  of  one  soul  and  body, 
that  an  universal  sense  runs  through  the  whole  mass 
of  matter.  You  should  likewise  reflect  how  nature 
acts  by  a  joint  effort,  and  how  everything  contributes 
to  the  being  of  everything :  and  lastly,  what  con- 
nection and  subordination  there  is  between  causes  and 

41.  Epictetus  will  tell  you  that  you  are  a  living 
soul,  that  drags  a  corpse  about  with  her. 

42.  Things  that  subsist  upon  change,  and  owe  their 
being  to  instability,  can  neither  be  considerably  good 
nor  bad. 

43.  Time  is  like  a  rapid  river,  and  a  rushing  tor- 
rent of  all  that  comes  and  passes.  A  thing  is  no 
sooner  well  come,  but  it  is  past;  and  then  another  is 
borne  after  it,  and  this  too  will  be  carried  away. 

44.  Whatever  happens  is  as  common  and  well 
known  as  a  rose  in  the  spring,  or  an  apple  in  autumn. 
Of  this  kind  are  diseases  and  death,  calumny  and 
trickery,  and  every  other  thing  which  raises  and  de- 
presses the  spirits  of  unthinking  people. 

45.  Antecedents  and    consequents  are   dexterously 

.  262 


tied  together  in  the  world.  Things  are  not  carelessly 
thrown  on  a  heap,  and  joined  more  by  number  than 
nature,  but,  as  it  were,  rationally  connected  with  each 
other.  And  as  the  things  that  exist  are  harmoniously 
connected,  so  those  that  become  exhibit  no  mere  suc- 
cession, but  an  harmonious  relationship. 

40.  Do  not  forget  the  saying  of  Heraclitus,  "That 
the  earth  dies  into  water,  water  into  air,  air  into  fire, 
and  so  backward."  Eemeraber  likewise  the  story  of 
the  man  that  travelled  on  without  knowing  to  what 
place  the  way  would  bring  him  ;  and  that  many 
people  quarrel  with  that  reason  that  governs  the  world, 
and  with  which  they  are  daily  conversant,  and  seem 
perfectly  unacquainted  with  those  things  which  occur 
daily.  Farther,  we  must  not  nod  over  business — for 
even  in  sleep  we  seem  to  act, — neither  are  we  to  be 
wholly  governed  by  tradition  ;  for  that  is  like 
children,  who  believe  anything  their  parents  tell  them. 

47.  Put  the  case,  some  god  should  acquaint  you 
you  were  to  die  to-morrow,  or  next  day  at  farthest. 
Under  this  warning,  you  would  be  a  very  poor  wretch 
if  you  should  strongly  solicit  for  the  longest  time. 
For,  alas  !  how  inconsiderable  is  the  difference  ?  In 
like  manner,  if  you  would  reason  right,  you  would 
not  be  much  concerned  whether  your  life  was  to  end 
to-morrow  or  a  thousand  years  hence. 

48.  Consider  how  many  physicians  are  dead  that 
used  to  knit  their  brows  over  their  patients ;  how 
many  astrologers  who  thought  themselves  great  men 
by  foretelling  the  death  of  others  ;  how  many  philo- 
sophers have  gone  the  way  of  all  flesh,  after  all   their 


learned  disputes  about  dying  and  immortality ;  how 
many  warriors,  who  had  knocked  so  many  men's 
brains  out  ;  how  many  tyrants,  who  managed  the 
power  of  life  and  death  with  as  much  insolence,  as 
if  themselves  had  been  immortal ;  how  many  cities, 
i  I  may  say  so,  have  given  up  the  ghost :  for  in- 
stance, Helice  in  Greece,  Pompeii  and  Herculaneum 
m  Italy  ;  not  to  mention  many  besides.  Do  but  recol- 
lect your  acquaintance,  and  here  you  will  find  one 
man  closing  another's  eyes,  then  he  himself  is  laid  out, 
and  this  one  by  another.  And  all  within  a  small 
compass  of  time.  In  short,  mankind  are  poor  trans- 
itory things  !  They  are  one  day  in  the  rudiments 
of  life,  and  almost  the  next  turned  to  mummy  or 
ashes.  Your  way  is  therefore  to  manage  this  minute 
in  harmony  with  nature,  and  part  with  it  cheerfully  ; 
and  like  a  ripe  olive  when  you  drop,  be  sure  to  speak 
well  of  the  mother  that  bare  you,  and  make  your 
acknowledgments  to  the  tree  that  produced  you. 

49.  Stand  firm  like  a  rock,  against  which  though 
the  waves  batter,  yet  it  stands  unmoved,  and  they  fall 
to  rest  at  last.  How  unfortunate  has  this  accident 
made  me,  cries  such  an  one  !  Not  at  all  !  He  should 
rather  say.  What  a  happy  mortal  am  I  for  being  un- 
concerned upon  this  occasion  !  for  being  neither 
crushed  by  the  present,  nor  afraid  of  what  is  to  come. 
The  thing  might  have  happened  to  any  other  man  as 
well  as  myself;  but  for  all  that,  everybody  Avould 
not  have  been  so  easy  under  it.  Why  then  is  not 
the  good  fortune  of  the  bearing  more  considerable 
than  the  ill  fortune  of  the  happening  ?     Or,  to  speak 


properly,  how  can  that  be  a  misfortune  to  a  mail 
which  does  not  frustrate  his  nature  ?  And  how  can 
that  cross  upon  a  man's  nature  which  is  not  opposed 
to  the  intention  and  design  of  it  ?  Now  what  that 
intention  is,  you  know.  To  apply  this  reasoning  : 
does  the  present  accident  hinder  your  being  just, 
magnanimous,  temperate  and  modest,  judicious,  truth- 
ful, reverent,  and  unservile  ?  Now,  when  a  man  is 
furnished  with  these  good  qualities,  his  nature  has 
what  she  would  have.  Farther,  when  anything  grows 
troublesome,  recollect  this  maxim  :  This  accident  is 
not  a  misfortune,  but  bearing  it  well  turns  it  to  an 

50.  To  consider  those  old  people  that  resigned  life 
so  unwillingly,  is  a  common  yet  not  unserviceable 
aid  in  facing  death.  For  Avhat  are  these  long- 
lived  mortals  more  than  those  that  went  off  in  their 
infancy  ?  What  has  become  of  Cadicianus,  Fabius, 
Julianus.  and  Lepidus,  and  others  like  them  ?  They 
buried  a  great  many,  but  came  at  last  to  it  themselves. 
Upon  the  whole,  the  difference  between  long  and  short 
life  is  insignificant,  especially  if  you  consider  the  acci- 
dents, the  company,  and  the  body  you  must  go  through 
with.  Therefore  do  not  let  a  thought  of  this  kind 
affect  you.  Do  but  look  upon  the  astonishing  notion 
of  time  and  eternity  ;  what  an  immense  deal  has  run 
out  already,  and  how  infinite  it  is  still  in  the  future. 
Do  but  consider  this,  and  you  will  find  three  days 
and  three  ages  of  life  come  much  to  the  same 

5  ] .   Always  go  the  shortest  way   to   work.      Now, 


tlie  nearest  road  to  your  business  is  the  road  of  nature. 
Let  it  be  your  constant  method,  then,  to  be  sound  in 
word  and  in  deed,  and  by  this  means  you  need  not 
grow  fatigued,  you  need  not  quarrel,  flourish,  and  dis- 
semble like  other  people. 



BOOK    V. 

1.  IIB'jjx  !B^"j§l HEN  you  find  an  unwillingness  to  rise 
early  in  the  morning,  make  this  short 
speech  to  yourself:  I  am  getting  up 
now  to  do  the  business  of  a  man;  and 
am  I  out  of  humour  for  sfoinor  about 
that  I  was  made  for,  and  for  the  sake  of  which  I  was 
sent  into  the  world  ?  Was  T  then  designed  for  nothing 
but  to  doze  and  keep  warm  beneath  the  counterpane  ? 
Well  !  but  this  is  a  comfortable  way  of  living.  Grant- 
ing that  ;  were  you  born  only  for  pleasure  ?  were  you 
never  to  do  anything  ?  Is  not  action  the  end  of  your 
being  ?  Pray  look  upon  the  plants  and  birds,  the 
ants,  spiders,  and  bees,  and  you  will  see  them  all  ex- 
erting their  nature,  and  busy  in  their  station.  Pray, 
shall  not  a  man  act  like  a  man  ?  Why  do  you  not 
rouse  your  faculties,  and  hasten  to  act  according  to 
vour  nature  ?  For  all  that,  there  is  no  living  without 
rest.  True  ;  but  nature  has  fixed  a  limit  to  eating 
and  drinking,  and  here,  too,  you  generally  exceed 
bounds,  and  go  beyond  what  is  sufficient.  Whereas 
in  business  you  are  apt  to  do  less  than  lies  in  your 
power.  In  earnest,  you  have  no  true  love  for  your- 
self.     If  you  had,  you  would  love  your   nature   a»4 


honour  her  wishes.  Now,  when  a  man  loves  his  trade, 
how  he  will  sweat  and  drudge  to  perform  to  perfection. 
But  you  honour  your  nature  less  than  a  turner  does 
the  art  of  turning,  a  dancing-master  the  art  of  danc- 
ing. And  as  for  wealth  and  popularity,  how  eagerly 
are  they  pursued  by  the  vain  and  the  covetous  ?  All 
these  people  when  they  greatly  desire  anything,  seek 
to  attain  it,  might  and  main,  and  will  scarcely  allow 
themselves  necessary  refreshment.  And  now,  can  you 
think  the  exercise  of  social  duties  less  valuable  than 
these  petty  amusements,  and  worth  less  exertion  ? 

2.  What  an  easy  matter  it  is  to  stem  the  current 
of  your  imagination,  to  discharge  a  troublesome  or 
improper  thought,  and  at  once  return  to  a  state  of 

3.  Do  not  think  any  word  or  action  beneath  you 
which  is  in  accordance  with  nature  ;  and  never  be 
misled  by  the  apprehension  of  censure  or  reproach. 
Where  honesty  prompts  you  to  say  or  do  anything, 
never  hold  it  beneath  you.  Other  people  have  their 
own  guiding  principles  and  impulses  ;  mind  them  not. 
Go  on  in  the  straight  road,  pursue  your  own  and  the 
common  interest.  For  to  speak  strictly,  these  two  are 
approached  by  one  and  the  same  road. 

4.  I  will  march  on  in  the  path  of  nature  till  my 
legs  sink  under  me,  and  then  I  shall  be  at  rest,  and 
expire  into  that  air  which  has  given  me  my  daily 
breath ;  fall  upon  that  earth  which  has  maintained 
my  parents,  helped  my  nurse  to  her  milk,  and  supplied 
me  with  meat  and  drink  for  so  many  years ;  and 
though  its  favours  have  been  often  abused,  still  suffers 
fpe  to  tread  upon  it. 


5.  Wit  and  smartness  are  not  your  talent. 
What  then  ?  There  are  a  great  many  other  good 
qualities  in  which  you  cannot  pretend  nature  has 
failed  you  ;  improve  them  as  far  as  you  can,  and  let 
us  have  that  which  is  perfectly  in  your  power.  You 
may  if  you  please  bthave  yourself  like  a  man  of 
gravity  and  good  faith,  endure  hardship,  and  despise 
pleasure ;  want  but  a  few  things,  and  complain  of 
nothing ;  you  may  be  gentle  and  magnanimous  if  you 
please,  and  have  nothing  of  luxury  or  trifling  in  your 
disposition.  Do  not  you  sec  how  much  you  may  do 
if  you  have  a  mind  to  it,  where  the  plea  of  incapacity 
is  out  of  place  ?  And  yet  you  do  not  push  forward 
as  you  should  do.  What  then  !  Does  any  natural 
defect  force  you  to  grumble,  to  lay  your  faults  upon 
your  constitution,  to  be  stingy  or  a  flatterer,  to  seek 
after  popularity,  boast,  and  be  disturbed  ia  mind  ? 
Can  you  say  you  are  so  weakly  made  as  to  be  driven 
to  these  practices  ?  The  immortal  gods  know  the 
contrary.  No,  you  might  have  stood  clear  of  all  this 
long  since ;  and  after  all,  if  your  parts  were  some- 
what slow,  and  your  understanding  heavy,  your  way 
had  been  to  have  taken  the  more  pains  with  yourself, 
and  not  to  have  lain  fallow  and  remained  content 
with  your  own  dulness. 

6.  Some  men,  when  they  do  you  a  kindness,  at 
once  demand  the  payment  of  gratitude  from  you ; 
others  are  more  modest  than  this.  However,  they 
remember  the  favour,  and  look  upon  you  in  a  manner 
as  their  debtor.  A  third  sort  shall  scarce  know  what 
they    have    dooe.       These    are    much    like  a  vifte, 


which  is  satisfied  by  being  fruitful  in  its  kind,  and 
bears  a  bunch  of  grapes  without  expecting  any  thanks 
for  it.  A  fleet  horse  or  greyhound  does  not  make  a 
noise  when  they  have  done  well,  nor  a  bee  neither 
when  she  has  made  a  little  honey.  And  thus  a  man 
that  has  done  a  kindness  never  proclaims  it,  but  does 
another  as  soon  as  he  can,  just  like  a  vine  that  bears 
again  the  next  season.  Now  we  should  imitate  those 
who  are  so  obliging,  as  hardly  to  reflect  on  their 
beneficence.  But  you  will  say,  a  man  ought  not  to 
act  without  reflection.  It  is  surely  natural  for  one 
that  is  generous  to  be  conscious  of  his  generosity;  yes, 
truly,  and  to  desire  the  person  obliged  should  be 
sensible  of  it  too.  What  you  say  is  in  a  great  measure 
true.  But  if  you  mistake  my  meaning,  you  will 
become  one  of  those  untoward  benefactors  I  first 
mentioned;  indeed,  they  too  are  misled  by  the  plausi- 
bility of  their  reasoning.  But  if  you  will  view  the 
matter  in  its  true  colours,  never  fear  that  you  will 
neglect  any  social  act. 

7.  A  prayer  of  the  Athenians,  "  Send  down,  oh  ! 
send  down  rain,  dear  Zeus,  on  the  ploughed  fields  and 
plains  of  the  Athenians."  Of  a  truth,  we  should  not 
pray  at  all,  or  else  in  this  simple  and  noble  fashion. 

8.  ^sculapius,  as  we  commonly  say,  has  pre- 
scribed such  an  one  riding  out,  walking  in  his  slip- 
pers, or  a  cold  bath.  Now,  with  much  the  same 
meaning  we  may  aflirm  that  the  nature  of  the  uni- 
verse has  ordered  this  or  that  person  a  disease,  loss  of 
limbs  or  estate,  or  some  such  other  calamity.  For  as 
in  the  first  case,  the  word  ''prescribed"  signifies  a  direc- 

tioii  for  the  health  of  the  patient,  so  in  the  hitter  it 
means  an  application  fit  for  his  constitution  and  fate. 
And  thus  these  harsher  events  may  be  counted  fit  for  us, 
as  stone  properly  joined  together  in  a  wall  or  pyramid 
is  said  by  the  workmen  to  fit  in.  Indeed,  the  whole  of 
nature  consists  of  harmony.  For  as  the  world  has  its 
form  and  entireness  from  that  universal  matter  of 
which  it  consists,  so  the  character  of  fate  results  from 
the  quality  and  concurrence  of  all  other  causes  con- 
tained in  it.  The  common  people  understand  this 
notion  very  well.  Their  way  of  speaking  is  :  ''  This 
happened  to  this  man,  therefore  it  was  sent  him  and 
appointed  for  him."  Let  us  then  comply  with  our 
doom,  as  w^e  do  with  the  prescriptions  of  ^sculapius. 
These  doses  are  often  unpalatable  and  rugged,  and 
yet  the  desire  of  health  makes  them  go  merrily  down. 
Now  that  which  nature  esteems  profit  and  convenience, 
should  seem  to  you  like  your  own  health.  And, 
therefore,  when  anything  adverse  happens,  take  it 
quietly  to  you  ;  it  is  for  the  health  of  the  universe,  and 
the  prosperity  of  Zeus  himself  Depend  upon  it, 
this  had  never  been  sent  you,  if  the  universe  had  not 
found  its  advantage  in  it.  Neither  does  nature  act 
at  random,  or  order  anything  which  is  not  suitable  to 
those  beings  under  her  government.  You  have  two 
reasons,  therefore,  to  be  contented  with  your  condition. 
FiTHt,  because  it  has  befallen  you,  and  was  appointed 
you  from  the  beginning  by  the  highest  and  most 
ancient  causes.  Secondly,  The  lot  even  of  individuals 
is  in  a  manner  destined  for  the  interest  of  him  that 
governs  the  -world.      It   perfects   his   nature   in    some 

72  MED/TATWm. 

measure,  an(]  causes  and  continues  bis  happiness;  for 
it  holds  in  causes,  no  less  than  in  parts  of  a  whole 
that  if  you  lop  off  any  part  of  the  continuity  and  con- 
nection, you  maim  the  whole.  Now,  if  you  are  dis- 
pleased with  your  circumstances,  you  dismember 
nature,  and  pull  the  world  in  pieces,  as  much  as  lies 
in  your  power. 

9.  Be  not  uneasy,  discouraged,  or  out  of  humour, 
because  practice  falls  short  of  precept  in  some  parti- 
culars. If  you  happen  to  be  beaten,  come  on  again, 
and  be  glad  if  most  of  your  acts  are  worthy  of  human 
nature.  Love  that  to  which  you  return,  and  do  not  go 
like  a  schoolboy  to  his  master,  with  an  ill  will.  No, 
you  must  apply  to  philosophy  with  inclination,  as 
those  who  have  sore  eyes  make  use  of  a  good  receipt. 
And  when  yo\x  are  thus  disposed,  you  will  easily 
acquiesce  in  reason,  and  make  your  abode  with  her. 
And  here  you  are  to  remember  that  philosophy  will 
put  you  upon  nothing  but  what  your  nature  wishes 
and  calls  for.  But  you  are  crossing  the  inclinations  of 
your  nature.  Is  not  this  the  most  agreeable  ?  And 
does  not  pleasure  often  deceive  us  under  this  pretence  ? 
Now  think  a  little,  and  tell  me  what  is  there  more 
delightful  than  greatness  of  mind,  and  generosity, 
simplicity,  equanimity,  and  piety  ?  And  once  more, 
what  can  be  more  delightful  than  prudence  ?  than  to 
be  furnished  with  that  faculty  of  knowledge  and  un- 
derstanding which  keeps  a  man  from  making  a  false 
step,  and  helps  him  to  good  fortune  in  all  his 
business  ? 

10.  Things  are  so  much  perplexed  and  in  the  dark 


that  several  great  philosophers  looked  upon  them 
as  altogether  unintelligible,  and  that  there  was  no 
certain  test  for  the  discovery  of  truth.  Even  the 
Stoics  agree  that  certainty  is  very  hard  to  come  at ; 
that  our  assent  is  worth  little,  for  where  is  infallibility 
to  be  found  ?  However,  our  ignorance  is  not  so  great 
bat  that  we  may  discover  how  transitory  and  insig- 
nificant all  things  are,  and  that  they  may  fall  into  the 
worst  hands.  Farther,  consider  the  temper  of  those 
you  converse  Avith,  and  you  will  find  the  best  will 
hardly  do ;  not  to  mention  that  a  man  has  work 
enough  to  make  himself  tolerable  to  himself  And 
since  we  have  nothing  but  darkness  and  dirt  to  grasp 
at,  since  time  and  matter,  motion  and  mortals  are  in 
perpetual  flux ;  for  these  reasons,  I  say,  I  cannot 
imaoine  w-hat  there  is  here  worth  the  mindinoj  or  bein^f 
eager  about.  On  the  other  hand,  a  man  ousfht  to 
keep  up  his  spirits,  for  it  will  not  be  long  before  his 
discharge  comes.  In  the  meantime,  he  must  not  fret 
at  the  delay,  but  satisfy  himself  with  these  two  con- 
siderations :  the  one  is,  that  nothing  will  befall  me 
but  what  is  in  accordance  with  the  nature  of  the 
universe ;  the  other,  that  I  need  do  nothiug  contrary 
to  my  mind  and  divinity,  since  no  one  can  force  me  to. 
act  thus,  or  force  me  to  act  against  my  own  judgment. 
11.  What  use  do  I  put  my  soul  to?  It  is  a 
serviceable  question  this,  and  should  frequently  be  put 
to  oneself.  How  does  my  ruling  part  stand  affected? 
And  whose  soul  have  I  now  ?  That  of  a  child,  or  a 
young  man,  or  a  feeble  woman,  or  of  a  tyrant,  of 
cattle  or  wild  beasts. 


12.  What  sort  of  good  things  those  are,  which  are 
commoDly  so  reckoned,  you  may  learn  from  hence. 
For  the  purpose,  if  you  reflect  upon  those  qualities 
which  are  intrinsically  valuable,  such  as  prudence, 
temperance,  justice,  and  fortitude,  you  will  not  find 
it  possible  afterwards  to  give  ear  to  those,  for  this  is 
not  suitable  to  a  good  man.  But  if  you  have  once 
conceived  as  good  what  appears  so  to  the  many,  you 
will  hear  and  gladly  accept  as  suitable  the  saying  of 
the  comic  writer.  Thus  we  see  the  generality  are 
struck  with  the  distinction,  otherwise  they  would  not 
dislike  the  liberty  in  one  case,  and  allow  it  in  the 
other,  holding  it  a  suitable  and  witty  jest  when  it  is 
directed  against  wealth,  and  the  means  that  further 
luxury  and  ambition.  Now,  what  significancy  and 
excellence  can  there  be  in  these  things,  to  which  may 
be  applied  the  poet's  jest,  that  excess  of  luxury  leaves 
no  room  for  comfort  ? 

13.  My  being  consists  of  matter  and  form,  that  is, 
of  soul  and  body ;  annihilation  v/ill  reach  neither  of 
them,  for  they  w^ere  never  produced  out  of  nothing. 
The  consequence  is,  that  every  part  of  me  will  serve 
to  make  something  in  the  world  ;  and  this  again  will 
change  into  another  part  through  an  infinite  succession 
of  change.  This  constant  method  of  alteration  gave 
me  my  being,  and  my  father  before  me,  and  so  on  to 
eternity  backward  :  for  I  think  I  may  speak  thus, 
even  thous^h  the  world  be  confined  within  certain 
determinate  periods. 

1 4.  Reason  and  the  reasoning  faculty  need  no 
foreign  assistance,  but  are  sufficient  for  their  own  par- 


poses.  They  move  within  themselves,  and  make 
directly  for  the  point  in  view.  Wherefore,  acts  in 
accordance  with  them  are  called  right  acts,  for  they 
lead  along  the  right  road. 

15.  Those  things  do  not  belong  to  a  man  which 
do  not  belong  to  him  as  a  man.  For  they  are  not 
included  in  the  idea ;  they  are  not  required  of  us  as 
men ;  human  nature  does  not  promise  them,  neither 
is  it  perfected  by  them.  From  whence  it  follows 
that  they  can  neither  constitute  the  chief  end  of  man, 
nor  strictly  contribute  towards  it.  Farther,  if  these 
things  Avere  any  real  additions,  how  comes  the  con- 
tempt of  them,  and  the  being  easy  without  them,  to 
be  so  great  a  commendation  ?  To  balk  an  advantage 
would  be  folly  if  these  things  were  truly  good.  But 
the  case  stands  otherwise ;  for  we  know  that  self- 
denial  and  indifference  about  these  things,  and  patience 
when  they  are  taken  away,  is  the  character  of  a  good 

16.  Your  manners  will  depend  very  much  upon 
the  quality  of  what  you  frequently  think  on ;  for  the 
soul  is  as  it  were  tinged  with  the  colour  and  com- 
plexion of  thought.  Be  sure  therefore  to  work  in  such 
maxims  as  these.  Wherever  a  man  lives,  he  may  live 
well ;  by  consequence,  a  life  of  virtue  and  that  of  a 
courtier  are  not  inconsistent.  Again,  that  which  a 
thing'  is  made  for,  is  that  towards  which  it  is  carried, 
and  in  that  which  it  is  naturally  carried  to,  lies  the  end 
of  the  act.  Now  where  the  end  of  a  thing  is,  there  the 
advantage  and  improvement  of  it  is  certainly  lodged. 
Now  the  happiness  of  mankind  lies  in  society,  since 



that  we  were  made  for  this  purpose,  I  have  proved 
already.  For  is  it  not  plain  that  the  lower  order  of 
beings  are  made  for  the  higher,  and  the  higher  for  the 
service  of  each  other  ?  Now  as  those  with  souls  are 
superior  to  the  soulless,  so  amongst  all  creatures  with 
souls  the  rational  are  the  best. 

17.  To  expect  an  impossibility  is  madness.  Now 
it  is  impossible  for  ill  men  not  to  do  ill. 

18.  There  is  nothing  happens  to  any  person  but 
what  was  in  his  power  to  go  through  with.  Some 
people  have  had  very  severe  trials,  and  yet  either  by 
having  less  understanding,  or  more  pride  than  ordinary, 
have  charged  bravely  through  the  misfortune,  and 
come  off  without  a  scratch.  Now  it  is  a  disgrace  to 
let  ignorance  and  vanity  do  more  with  us  than 
prudence  and  principle. 

19.  Outward  objects  cannot  take  hold  of  the  soul, 
nor  force  their  passage  into  her,  nor  set  any  of  her 
wheels  going.  No,  the  impression  comes  from  her- 
self, and  it  is  her  own  motions  which  affect  her.  As 
for  the  contingencies  of  fortune,  they  are  either  great 
or  little,  according  to  the  opinion  she  has  of  her  own 

20.  When  we  consider  we  are  bound  to  be  service- 
able to  mankind,  and  bear  with  their  faults,  we  shall 
perceive  there  is  a  common  tie  of  nature  and  relation 
between  us.  But  when  we  see  people  grow  trouble- 
some and  disturb  us  in  our  business,  here  we  are  to 
look  upon  men  as  indifferent  sort  of  things,  no  less 
than  sun  or  wind,  or  a  wild  beast.  It  is  true  they 
may  hinder  me  in  the  executing  part,  but  all  this  is  of 


no  moment  while  my  inclinations  and  good  intent 
stand  firm,  for  these  can  act  according  to  the  condi- 
tion and  chano^e.  For  the  mind  converts  and  chano-es 
every  hindrance  into  help.  And  thus  it  is  probable  I 
may  gain  by  the  opposition,  and  let  the  obstacle  help 
me  on  my  road. 

21.  Among  all  things  in  the  universe,  direct  your 
worship  to  the  greatest.  And  which  is  that  ?  It  is 
that  being  which  manages  and  governs  all  the  rest. 
And  as  you  worship  the  best  thing  in  nature,  so  you 
are  to  pay  a  proportionate  regard  to  the  best  thing 
in  yourself,  and  this  is  akin  to  the  Deity.  The  quality 
of  its  functions  will  discover  it.  It  is  the  reigning 
power  within  you,  which  disposes  of  your  actions  and 
your  fortune. 

22.  That  which  does  not  hurt  the  city  or  body 
politic  cannot  hurt  the  citizen.  Therefore  when  you 
think  you  are  ill-used,  let  this  reflection  be  your 
remedy  :  If  the  community  is  not  the  worse  for  it, 
neither  am  I.  But  if  the  community  is  injured,  your 
business  is  to  show  the  person  concerned  his  fault, 
but  not  to  grow  passionate  about  it. 

23.  Reflect  frequently  upon  the  instability  of 
things,  and  how  very  fast  the  scenes  of  nature  are 
shifted.  Matter  is  in  a  perpetual  flux.  Change  is 
always  and  everywhere  at  work ;  it  strikes  through 
causes  and  effects,  and  leaves  nothing  fixed  and 
permanent.  And  then  how  very  near  us  stand  the 
two  vast  gulfs  of  time,  the  past  and  the  future,  in 
which  all  things  disappear.  Now  is  not  that  man  a 
blockhead  that  lets  these  momentary  thiugs  make  him 


proud,  or  uneasy,  or  sorrowful,  as   though   they  could 
trouble  him  for  long  ? 

24.  Remember  what  an  atom  your  person  is  in 
respect  of  the  universe,  what  a  minute  of  immeasurable 
time  falls  to  your  share,  and  what  a  small  concern  you 
are  in  the  empire  of  fate  ! 

25.  A  man  misbehaves  himself  towards  me  ;  what  is 
that  to  me  ?  The  action  is  his,  and  the  disposition 
that  led  him  to  it  is  his,  and  therefore  let  him  look 
to  it.  As  for  me,  I  am  in  the  condition  the  universal 
nature  assigns  me,  and  am  doing  what  my  own  nature 
assigns  me. 

26.  Whether  the  motions  of  your  body  are  rugged 
or  agreeable,  do  not  let  your  ruling  and  governing 
principle  be  concerned  with  them  ;  confine  the  im- 
pressions to  their  respective  quarters,  and  let  your 
mind  keep  her  distance,  and  not  mingle  with  them. 
It  is  true,  that  which  results  from  the  laws  of  the 
union  through  the  force  of  sympathy  or  constitution, 
must  be  felt,  for  nature  will  have  its  course.  But 
though  the  sensation  cannot  be  stopped,  it  must  not 
be  overrated,  nor  strained  to  the  quality  of  good  or 

27.  We  ought  to  live  with  the  gods.  This  is  done 
by  him  who  always  exhibits  a  soul  contented  with  the 
appointments  of  Providence,  and  obeys  the  orders  of 
that  divinity  which  is  his  deputy  and  ruler,  and  the 
offspring  of  God.  Now  this  divine  authority  is  neither 
more  nor  less  than  that  soul  and  reason  which  every 
man  possesses. 

28.  Are  you  angry  at  a  rank  smell  or  an  ill-scented 


breath  ?  What  good  will  this  anger  do  you  ?  But 
you  will  say,  the  man  has  reason,  and  can,  if  he  takes 
pains,  discover  wherein  he  offends.  I  wish  you  joy  of 
your  discovery.  Well,  if  you  think  mankind  so  full 
of  reason,  pray  make  use  of  your  own.  Argue  the 
case  with  the  faulty  person,  and  show  him  his  error. 
If  your  advice  prevails,  he  is  what  you  w^ould  have 
him  ;  and  then  there  is  no  need  of  being  angry. 

29.  You  may  live  now  if  you  please,  as  you  would 
choose  to  do  if  you  were  near  dying.  But  suppose 
people  will  not  let  you,  why  then,  give  life  the  slip, 
but  by  no  means  make  a  misfortune  of  it.  If  the 
room  smokes  I  leave  it,  and  there  is  an  end,  for  why 
should  one  be  concerned  at  the  matter  ?  However, 
as  long  as  nothing  of  this  kind  drives  me  out,  I  stay, 
behave  as  a  free  man,  and  do  what  I  have  a  mind  to  ; 
but  then  I  have  a  mind  to  nothing  but  what  I  am  led 
to  by  reason  and  public  interest. 

3  0.  The  soul  of  the  universe  is  of  a  social  disposi- 
tion. For  this  reason  it  has  made  the  lower  part  of  the 
creation  for  the  sake  of  the  higher.  And  as  for  those 
beings  of  the  higher  rank,  it  has  bound  them  to  each 
other.  You  see  how  admirably  things  are  ranged  and 
subordinated  according  to  the  dignity  of  their  kind, 
and  cemented  together  in  mutual  harmony. 

31.  Recollect  how  you  have  behaved  yourself  all 
along  towards  the  gods,  your  parents,  brothers,  wife, 
and  children  ;  towards  your  instructors,  governors, 
friends,  acquaintance,  and  servants.  Whether  men  can 
say  of  you,  *'  He  never  wronged  a  man  in  word  or 
deed."      Recollect  how  much  business  you  have  been 


engaged  in,  and  what  you  have  had  strength  to 
endure;  that  now  your  task  is  done,  and  the  his- 
tory of  your  life  finished.  Remember  likewise, 
how  many  fair  sights  you  have  seen,  how  much  of 
pleasure  and  pain  you  have  despised,  how  much 
glory  disregarded,  and  how  often  you  have  done  good 
against  evil. 

32.  Why  should  skill  and  knowledge  be  disturbed  at 
the  censures  of  ignorance  ?  But  who  are  these  knowing 
and  skilful  people  ?  Why,  those  who  are  acquainted 
with  the  original  cause  and  end  of  all  things,  with 
that  reason  that  pervades  the  mass  of  matter,  renews 
the  world  at  certain  periods,  and  governs  it  through  all 
the  lengths  of  time. 

33.  You  will  quickly  be  reduced  to  ashes  and 
skeleton.  And  it  may  be  you  will  have  a  name  left 
you,  and  it  may  be  not.  And  what  is  a  name  ? 
Nothing  but  sound  and  echo.  And  then  for  those 
things  which  are  so  much  valued  in  the  world,  they 
are  miserably  empty  and  rotten,  and  insignificant. 
It  is  like  puppies  snarling  for  a  bone  ;  and  the  con- 
tests of  little  children  sometimes  transported,  and  then 
again  all  in  tears  about  a  plaything.  And  as  for 
modesty  and  good  faith,  truth  and  justice,  they  have 
fled  "  up  to  Olympus  from  the  wide-spread  earth." 
And  now,  what  is  it  that  can  keep  you  here  ?  For  if 
the  objects  of  sense  are  floating  and  changeable,  and 
the  organs  misty,  and  apt  to  be  imposed  on  ;  if  the 
soul  is  but  a  vapour  drawn  off  the  blood,  and  the 
applause  of  little  mortals  insignificant ;  if  the  case 
stands  thus,  why  not  have  patience  till  you  are  either 

MEDITA  T20NS.  8 1 

extinguislied  or  removed  ?  And  till  that  time  comes, 
what  is  to  be  done  ?  The  answer  is  easy  :  to  worship 
the  gods,  and  speak  honourably  of  them  ;  to  be  bene- 
ficial to  mankind ;  to  bear  with  them  or  avoid  them  ; 
and  lastly,  to  remember  that  whatever  lies  without 
the  compass  of  your  own  flesh  and  breath  is  nothing 
of  yours,  nor  in  your  power. 

34.  You  may  be  always  successful  if  you  do  but 
set  out  well,  and  let  your  thoughts  and  practice  pro- 
ceed upon  right  method.  There  are  two  properties 
and  privileges  common  to  the  soul  of  God  and  man 
and  all  rational  beings.  The  one  is,  not  to  be  hindered 
by  anything  external ;  the  other,  to  make  virtuous  in- 
tention and  action  their  supreme  satisfaction,  and  not 
so  much  as  to  desire  anything  farther. 

35.  If  this  accident  is  no  fault  of  mine,  nor  a  con- 
sequence of  it ;  and  besides,  if  the  community  is 
never  the  worse  for  it,  why  am  I  concerned  ?  Now, 
how  is  the  community  injured  ? 

36.  Do  not  suffer  a  sudden  impression  to  overbear 
your  judgment.  Let  those  that  want  your  assistance 
have  it,  as  far  as  the  case  requires.  But  if  they  are  in- 
jured in  matters  indifferent,  do  not  consider  it  any  real 
damage,  for  that  is  a  bad  habit.  But  as  the  old  man, 
when  he  went  away,  asked  back  his  foster-child's  top, 
remembering  that  it  was  a  top,  so  do  in  this  case  also. 
When  you  are  haranguing  in  the  rostra,  a  little  of  this 
to  yourself  would  not  be  amiss  : — Ha.rk  you,  friend, 
have  you  forgotten  what  this  glitter  of  honour  really  is  ? 
I  grant  it  is  but  tinsel,  but  for  all  that  it  is  extremely 
valued.      And   because   other  people  are  fools,    must 


you  be  so  too  ?  I  can  at  once  become  bappy  any- 
wbere,  for  he  is  bappy  who  has  found  for  bimself 
a  bappy  lot.  In  a  word,  happiness  lies  all  in  the 
functions  of  reason,  in  warrantable  desires  and  vii'tuous 

BOOK    VI. 

%^ "iV -3v -iV -A  ^i  -A  -A  -iV  -A  ^^  ^ '/? V^ 'A-vV^^c 'A-'A^ w-?? -i <."% » -/i^A^-A  A  /^ 

BOOK     VI, 

S  the  substance  of  the  universe  is  pliable 
and  obedient,  so  that  sovereign  reason 
which  gives  laws  to  it  has  neither 
motive  nor  inclination  to  bring  an  evil 
upon  anything.      It  has  no  evil  in  its 

nature,  nor  does  evil,  but  forms  and  governs  all  things, 

and  hurts  nothing. 

2.  Do  but  your  duty,  and  do  not  trouble  yourself, 
whether  it  is  in  the  cold,  or  by  a  good  fire,  whether 
you  are  overwatched,  or  satisfied  with  sleep,  whether 
you  have  a  good  word  or  a  bad  one,  whether  you  are 
dying,  or  doing  anything  else,  for  this  last  must  be 
done  at  one  time  or  other.  It  is  part  of  the  business 
of  life  to  leave  it,  and  here  too  it  suffices  to  manage 
the  present  well. 

3.  Look  thoroughly  into  matters,  and  let  not  the 
peculiar  quality  or  intrinsic  value  of  anything  escape 

4.  The  present  appearance  of  things  will  quickly 
undergo  a  change,  and  be  either  exhaled  into  common 
matter  or  dispersed. 

5.  That  intelligent  Being  that  governs  the  universe 
has  perfect  views  of  His  o^vn  nature  and  acts,  and  of 
the  matter  on  which  He  acts. 


6.  The  best  way  of  revenge  is  not  to  imitate  the 

7.  Be  always  doing  something  serviceable  to  man- 
kind, and  let  this  constant  generosity  be  your  only 
pleasure,  not  forgetting  in  the  meantime  a  due  regard 
to  the  Deity. 

8.  The  governing  part  of  the  mind  arouses  and 
alters  itself ;  gives  what  air  it  pleases  to  its  own  like- 
ness, and  to  all  the  accidents  and  circumstances 

9.  The  particular  effects  in  the  world  are  all 
wrought  by  one  intelligent  nature.  This  universal 
cause  has  no  foreign  assistant,  no  interloping  principle, 
either  without  or  within  it. 

10.  The  w^orld  is  either  a  medley  of  atoms  that 
now  intermingle  and  now  are  scattered  apart,  or  else 
it  is  a  unity  under  the  laws  of  order  and  providence. 
If  the  first,  what  should  T  stay  for,  where  nature  is  in 
such  a  chaos,  and  things  are  so  blindly  jumbled  to- 
gether? Why  do  I  care  for  anything  else  than  to 
return  to  the  element  of  earth  as  soon  as  may  be  ? 
Why  should  I  give  myself  any  trouble?  Let  me  do 
w^hat  I  will,  my  elements  will  be  scattered.  But  if 
there  is  a  Providence,  then  I  adore  the  great  Governor 
of  the  world,  and  am  easy  and  of  good  cheer  in  the 
prospect  of  protection. 

11.  When  you  happen  to  be  ruffled  a  little  by  any 
untoward  accident,  retire  immediately  into  your  rea- 
son, and  do  not  move  out  of  tune  any  further  than 
needs  must ;  for  the  sooner  you  return  to  harmony, 
the  more  you  will  get  it  in  your  own  power. 


12.  Put  the  case,  3^ou  had  a  step-mother  and  a 
mother  at  the  same  time  ;  though  you  would  pay  a 
regard  to  the  first,  your  converse,  I  conceive,  would  be 
mostly  with  the  latter.  Let  the  court  and  philosophy 
represent  these  two  relations  to  you  ;  apply  frequently 
to  this  last,  and  seek  your  refreshment  with  her. 
For  it  is  a  life  of  virtue  and  philosophy  which  makes 
life  at  court  tolerable  to  you,  and  you  yourself  toler- 

13.  When  we  have  meat  before  us,  or  other  dishes, 
we  receive  the  impression  that  this  is  but  the  carcass 
of  a  fish,  this  of  a  fowl,  and  the  other  of  a  pig.  And 
then  for  this  bottle  of  Falernian,  what  is  it  but  a  little 
moisture  squeezed  out  of  the  berry  of  a  grape  ?  And 
your  purple  is  nothing  but  sheep's  hair  twisted  to- 
gether, and  stained  in  the  gore  of  a  little  shell-fish. 
And  if  we  were  to  proceed  to  some  other  satisfactions 
of  sense,  we  should  find  them  but  coarse  in  their 
causes  and  constitution  ;  and  as  these  notions  strike 
through  the  surface,  press  into  the  heart  of  things,  and 
shew  them  in  their  natural  colours,  so  we  should  carry 
them  on,  and  apply  them  to  all  the  pageantry  of  life. 
And  where  things  appear  most  plausible,  be  sure  to 
bring  them  to  the  test,  and  look  at  their  worth] ess- 
ness,  and  strip  them  of  all  the  words  by  which  they 
were  exalted.  Without  this  care,  figure  and  appear- 
ance are  great  cheats  ;  and  when  you  think  your 
fancy  is  best  employed,  you  will  be  most  fooled. 
Remember  what  Crates  said  even  of  Xenocrates. 

14.  The  inclination  of  the  generality  may  be  re 
duced  to  these  heads  :  Some  people  are  little  enough 


to  be  attracted  by  things  in  the  state  of  bare  exist- 
ence or  vegetation,  as  with  stones,  wood,  figs,  grapes, 
olives,  and  such  like.  Others,  Avho  are  somewhat 
more  reasonable  in  their  fancy,  must  have  life  to  charm 
them  ;  and  these,  it  may  be,  are  in  love  with  their 
flocks  and  herds.  A  third  sort,  better  furnished  than 
the  former,  admire  nothing  beneath  a  rational  soul, 
and  this  not  as  a  whole,  but  as  it  were  they  pride 
themselves  in  slaves,  possessed  of  some  skill,  parts, 
or  industry.  But  he  that  values  a  rational  creature 
that  is  social  and  universal  runs  into  none  of  the  follies 
above  mentioned,  but  makes  it  his  chief  business  to 
look  to  his  own  soul,  and  keep  it  in  rational  and 
social  movements,  and  to  assist  all  mankind  in  the 
public  interest. 

15.  Some  things  are  pressing  into  being,  and  others 
are  hastening  out  of  it,  and  that  which  was  entire  just 
now,  is  part  of  it  spent  already.  The  world  is  renewed 
by  this  change  and  flux,  no  less  than  the  infinite 
series  of  ages  by  the  perpetual  succession  of  time. 
Now,  who  would  set  a  value  upon  things  hurried  thus 
fast  down  the  stream,  on  which  it  is  impossible  to 
stop  ?  Such  a  passion  is  much  like  falling  in  love  with 
a  sparrow  flying  over  your  head.  You  have,  as  it  were, 
but  one  glimpse  of  her,  and  she  is  out  of  sight.  Life  is 
but  a  sort  of  exhalation  of  the  blood,  and  a  little  breath- 
ing in  of  air.  Now,  to  inhale  and  exhale  your  breath 
for  the  support  of  life,  which  you  do  every  moment,  and 
expire  your  last,  when  you  lose  the  whole  power  of 
breathing  which  you  received  at  your  birth  yesterday 
or  the  day  before,  is  much  the  same  action. 


16.  Neither  the  perspiration  of  plants,  nor  the 
breath  of  animals,  nor  the  impressions  of  sensation, 
nor  the  puppet- motions  of  passions  are  privileges  of 
any  great  value.  To  which  we  may  add  the  instinct 
of  crowdinsT  into  herds,  too^ether  with  the  functions  of 
nutrition,  this  latter  being  not  unlike  a  separating 
of  our  food.  What  then  is  it  that  you  count  worth 
your  esteem  ?  Applause  %  Not  at  all.  Why,  then, 
you  must  not  value  the  applause  of  tongues,  for 
the  commendation  of  the  multitude  is  nothing  else. 
Well,  I  find  fame  and  glory  will  not  tempt  you  ;  what, 
then,  is  there  behind  worth  the  having  %  To  govern 
your  motions,  and  make  use  of  your  being  according 
to  the  intentions  of  nature.  This  is  the  design  of 
arts  and  improvement  in  other  cases,  every  artificer 
and  profession  endeavouring  to  make  the  thing  tit  to 
answer  the  end  for  which  it  was  intended.  This,  for 
instance,  is  the  design  of  vine-dressers  and  those  that 
manage  horses  and  dogs.  And  learning  and  education 
have  all  one  object  in  view.  It  is  agreed  then,  the 
main  point  lies  here.  Compass  but  this,  and  let  all 
things  else  alone.  Must  your  inclinations  always  run 
riot,  and  will  you  never  become  free,  self-contained, 
and  passionless  ?  This  temper  will  let  loose  abun- 
dance of  uneasy  passions  upon  you.  It  will  make  you 
grow  envious,  full  of  jealousy  and  suspicion,  and  apt 
to  overreach  those  who  are  possessed  of  somethiug  you 
have  a  mind  to.  And  when  strong  desires  are  un- 
satisfied, you  will  find  yourself  mightily  disturbed. 
And  this  will  make  you  murmur  and  gi'ow  mutinous 
against  the  gods.      But  if  you  come  once  to  pay  a  due 


regard  and  reverence  to  your  own  reason,  you  will  be 
pleased  with  yourself,  serviceable  to  society,  and  com- 
pliant with  the  gods.  That  is,  you  will  be  entirely 
satisfied  with  their  rule  and  administration. 

17.  The  elements  either  press  upwards,  or  fall 
downwards,  or  else  run  round  in  a  circle.  But  virtue 
has  none  of  these  motions  ;  she  is  of  a  nobler  kind. 
Her  progress  in  regular  thoughts  is  somewhat  unintel- 
ligible, but  always  prosperous. 

18.  What  a  strange  humour  there  is  amongst  some 
people.  They  do  not  care  to  afford  a  good  word  to 
their  contemporaries,  and  yet  are  very  desirous  of 
being  praised  by  posterity,  that  is,  by  those  they 
never  saw,  nor  ever  will  have  the  least  acquaintance 
with.  Now  this  is  almost  as  absurd  as  it  would  be 
to  be  disturbed  because  you  were  not  commended  by 
the  generations  that  lived  before  you. 

19.  Because  you  find  a  thing  very  difficult,  do  not 
at  once  conclude  that  no  man  can  master  it.  But 
whatever  you  observe  proper  and  practicable  by  an- 
other, believe  likewise  within  your  own  power. 

20.  If  an  antagonist  in  the  circus  tears  our  flesh 
with  his  nails,  or  tilts  against  us  with  his  head,  and 
wounds  us,  we  do  not  cry  out  foul  play,  nor  are  we 
offended  at  the  rough  usage,  nor  suspect  him  after- 
wards as  a  dangerous  person  in  conversation.  It  is 
true,  when  we  are  at  the  exercise  we  guard  and  parry, 
but  all  this  is  done  without  raising  ill  blood,  or  look- 
ing upon  the  man  as  an  enemy.  Let  us  act  in  this 
way  in  the  other  instances  of  life.  When  we  receive 
a  blow,  let  us  disregard  it,  thinking  we  are  bub  at  a 



trial  of  skill,  for,  as  I  said  before,  it  is  in   our  power 
to  retire  without  feeling  malice  and  ill-will. 

21.  If  any  one  can  convince  me  of  an  error,  I  shall 
be  very  glad  to  change  my  opinion,  for  truth  is  my 
business,  and  nobody  was  ever  yet  hurt  by  it.  No  ; 
he  that  continues  in  ignorance  and  mistake,  it  is  he 
that  receives  the  mischief. 

22.  I  do  my  duty,  that  is  enough.  As  for  other 
things,  I  shall  never  be  disturbed  about  tliem.  For 
they  are  either  without  life  or  without  reason,  or  they 
have  lost  their  way  and  cannot  find  it. 

23.  As  for  brute  animals,  and  things  undignified 
with  reason,  use  them  generously  and  nobly,  as  beings 
that  have  reason  should  treat  those  that  have  none. 
But  treat  men,  since  they  have  reason,  as  members  of 
the  same  society.  And  in  all  your  affairs  invoke  the 
gods  for  their  assistance.  As  for  the  time  you  are  to 
continue  this,  never  trouble  yourself  whether  it  is  long 
or  short.  For  three  hours  of  life  thus  well  spent  are 

24.  Alexander  the  Great  and  his  groom,  when 
dead,  were  both  upon  the  same  level,  and  ran  the 
same  chance  of  being  scattered  into  atoms  or  absorbed 
in  the  soul  of  the  universe. 

25.  What  abundance  of  motions  there  are  in  the 
body,  what  abundance  of  thoughts  in  the  mind  at  the 
same  time  !  He  that  considers  this  will  not  wonder 
so  much  that  infinitely  more  productions,  nay  rather, 
all  that  are,  should  exist  together  in  that  gi-eat  whole 
we  call  the  universe. 

26.  Suppose  you  were   asked  to  spell  Antoninus's 



name,  would  you  sound  every  letter  with  emphasis  in 
the  company's  ears  ?  Or  would  you  return  their 
passion  if  they  were  angry  ?  I  conceive  you  would 
rather  go  mildly  to  work,  and  give  them  the  letters 
and  syllables  as  they  stand,  without  noise.  Apply 
this  to  greater  instances,  and  remember  that  all  duties 
in  morality  have  a  determinate  number  of  parts 
to  render  them  complete.  These  must  be  observed, 
and  performed  in  order;  but  it  must  be  done  smoothly, 
without  gTowing  provoked  upon  meeting  with  pro- 

27.  You  hold  it  cruel  to  balk  people's  fancies, 
and  not  give  them  leave  to  pursue  what  they  reckon 
their  interest.  Yet  with  this  you  are  chargeable  in 
some  measure  yourself  when  you  are  angry  with  those 
that  do  amiss ;  for  they  are  carried  towards  what  they 
esteem  their  own  interest  and  convenience.  But  that 
you  will  say  is  their  mistake.  Then  it  is  your  part 
to  lead  them  out  of  it,  and  to  show  them  their  error 
without  resentment. 

28.  What  is  death  ?  It  is  a  resting  from  the 
vibrations  of  sensation,  and  the  swayings  of  desire,  a 
stop  upon  the  rambling  of  thought,  and  a  release  from 
the  drudgery  about  your  body. 

29.  It  would  be  a  shame  if  your  mind  should 
falter  and  give  in  before  your  body. 

30.  Have  a  care  you  have  not  too  much  of  a  Caesar 
in  you,  and  that  you  are  not  dyed  with  that  dye. 
This  is  easily  learned,  therefore  guard  against  the 
infection.  Be  candid,  virtuous,  sincere,  and  modestly 
grave.      Let  justice  and  piety  have  their  share  in  your 


character;  let  your  temper  be  remarkable  for  mild- 
ness and  affection,  and  be  always  enterprising  and 
vigorous  in  your  business.  And,  in  short,  strive  to  be 
just  such  a  man  as  virtue  and  philosophy  meant  j^ou 
to  be.  Worship  the  gods  and  protect  mankind.  This 
life  is  short,  and  all  the  advantage  you  can  get  by  it 
is  a  pious  disposition  and  unselfish  acts.  Do  every- 
thing as  a  disciple  of  Antoninus  ;  imitate  him  m  the 
vigour  and  constancy  of  his  good  conduct,  in  the 
equality,  sweetness,  and  piety  of  his  temper,  the 
serenity  of  his  aspect,  his  contempt  of  fame,  and  the 
generous  ambition  he  had  to  be  perfectly  master  of 
his  business.  Further,  it  was  his  way  to  dismiss 
nothing  till  he  had  looked  through  it,  and  viewed  it 
on  all  sides ;  to  bear  unreasonable  remonstrances 
without  making  a  return  ;  never  to  be  in  a  hurry ; 
to  be  backward  in  giving  encouragement  to  informers. 
He  was  a  great  judge  of  men  and  manners,  but 
of  no  reprimanding  humour ;  not  at  all  apt  to  be 
frighted ;  not  too  suspicious,  nor  like  a  sophist. 
Satisfied  with  a  little,  as  one  might  easily  perceive  by 
his  palace,  his  furniture,  his  habit,  his  eating,  and  his 
attendance.  His  disposition  was  patient,  and  fatigueing 
his  delight.  He  was  temperate  in  his  diet.  He  was 
firm  in  his  friendship,  and  steady  and  agreeable  in  the 
manner  of  showing  it.  He  gave  his  courtiers  all  the 
freedom  imaginable  to  contradict  him,  and  was  pleased 
with  the  proposal  of  a  better  expedient  than  his  own. 
To  conclude,  he  was  a  religious  prince,  but  without 
superstition.  Pray  imitate  these  good  qualities  of  his, 
that  you  may  have  the  satisfaction  of  them  at  your 
last  hour  as  he  had. 


81.  Rouse  and  recollect  yourself,  and  you  will 
perceive  your  trouble  lay  only  in  a  scene  of  imagina- 
tion. And  when  you  are  well  awake,  look  upon 
these  realities  as  you  did  upon  those  visions. 

82.  My  person  consists  of  soul  and  a  little  body. 
To  this  latter  all  things  are  morally  indifferent,  the 
body  being  in  no  condition  to  make  a  distinction  of 
this  kind.  And  as  to  my  mind,  there  is  nothing  can 
affect  her,  her  OAvn  actions  excepted ;  now  these  are 
all  within  her  power,  and  of  all  her  actions  she  is  only 
concerned  with  the  present,  for  what  is  past  or  to 
come,  signifies  as  much  as  nothing,  and  is  at  present 

83.  As  long  as  the  hands  and  feet  do  the  work 
they  were  made  for,  they  move  naturally,  and  with 
ease.  Thus  while  a  man  performs  the  functions  of  a 
man,  and  keeps  true  to  his  condition,  he  feels  no  more 
weight  than  what  nature  lays  upon  him.  Now  that 
which  is  not  beside  the  intentions  of  nature  can  never 
be  a  real  misfortune. 

84.  What  abundance  of  sensual  satisfaction  have 
thieves,  parricides,  and  usurpers  been  possessed  of? 

35.  Do  not  you  observe  among  your  artificers, 
though  they  bear  the  contradiction  and  impertinence 
of  the  unskilful,  yet  they  will  not  comjDly  so  far  as  to 
be  talked  out  of  their  knowledge,  or  work  against 
the  rules  of  their  trade  ?  And  is  it  not  a  scandalous 
business,  that  an  architect  or  a  physician  should  have 
more  regard  for  his  profession  than  a  man  has  for 
his  ?  For  his,  I  say,  in  which  he  has  the  honour  of 
the  gods  for  his  partners. 


n6.  The  vast  continents  of  Europe  and  Asia  are 
but  corners  of  the  creation.  The  ocean  is  but  a  drop, 
and  Mount  Athos  but  a  grain  in  respect  of  the 
universe,  and  the  present  time  but  a  point  to  the 
extent  of  eternity.  These  things  have  all  of  them 
petty,  changeable,  and  transitory  beings.  Remember 
likewise  that  all  things  proceed  from  the  soul  of  the 
universe,  either  by  direct  or  indirect  causality. 
Thus  the  growling  deformity  of  a  lion,  the  poison  of 
serpents,  and  whatever  seems  offensive  in  nature,  as 
thorns  or  dirt,  are  the  outcome  of  something  noble  and 
beautiful.  Do  not  therefore  suppose  them  insignifi- 
cant and  unworthy  the  being  you  worship,  but 
consider  the  fountain  whence  all  things  spring. 

37.  He  that  has  taken  a  view  of  the  present  age, 
lias  seen  as  much  as  if  he  had  begun  with  the  world, 
and  gone  to  the  end  of  it ;  for  all  things  are  of  one 
kind  and  of  one  form. 

38.  The  mutual  dependence  all  things  have,  and 
the  relation  they  stand  in  to  each  other,  is  worth  your 
frequent  observation.  For  all  the  parts  of  matter  are 
in  some  measure  linked  together  and  interwoven,  and 
for  this  reason  have  a  natural  sympathy  for  each 
other.  For  one  thing  comes  in  order  after  another, 
and  this  comes  about  through  their  active  movement 
and  harmony,  and  the  unity  of  their  substance. 

39.  Bring  your  will  to  your  fate,  and  suit  your 
mind  to  your  circumstances,  and  love  those  people 
heartily  that  it  is  your  fortune  to  be  engaged  with. 

40.  Those  tools,  vessels,  and  utensils  are  said  to  be 
right,  which  serve  for  the  uses  they  were  made,  though 


in  this  case  the  artificer  that  made  them  is  commonly 
absent.  But  in  the  works  of  nature,  the  forming 
power  is  always  present  with  the  effect,  and  abides 
there,  wherefore  this  deserves  a  particular  regard. 
From  hence  you  are  to  conclude  that  as  long  as  you 
behave  yourself  as  this  sovereign  power  directs  you, 
you  will  live  in  accordance  with  intelligence.  In 
this  way  too  all  things  in  the  universe  are  directed  by 

41.  If  you  suppose  anything  which  lies  out  of  your 
command  to  be  good  or  evil,  your  missing  the  one 
or  falling  into  the  other  will  unavoidably  make  you  a 
malcontent  against  the  gods,  and  cause  you  to  hate 
those  people  whom  you  either  know  or  suspect  to  be 
instrumental  in  your  misfortune.  To  be  plain,  our 
being  concerned  for  these  objects  often  makes  us  very 
unreasonable  and  unjust.  But  if  we  confine  the 
notion  of  good  and  evil  to  things  in  our  power,  then 
all  the  motives  to  complaint  will  drop  off;  then  we 
shall  neither  remonstrate  against  Heaven,  nor  quarrel 
with  any  mortal  living. 

42.  All  people  work  in  some  measure  towards  the 
ends  of  Providence,  some  with  knowledge  and  design, 
though  others  are  not  sensible  of  it.  And  thus,  as  I 
remember,  Heraclitus  observes,  that  those  who  are 
asleep  may  be  said  to  help  the  world  forvv^ard.  In 
short,  the  grand  design  is  carried  on  by  different  hands 
and  different  means.  For  even  he  that  complaining 
makes  head  against  his  fate,  and  strives  to  pull  the 
administration  in  pieces,  even  such  a  testy  mortal  as 
this  contributes  his  share  abundantly,  for  the  universe 

MEDITA  riONS.  97 

had  need  even  of  such  an  one.  Consider,  then,  how 
you  are  ranging  yourself,  and  what  workers  you  are 
joining.  For  He  that  governs  the  world  will  certainly 
make  you  good  for  something,  and  prove  serviceable 
to  his  scheme,  one  way  or  other.  Have  a  care  you  do 
not  make  such  a  ridiculous  figure  in  nature,  as  that 
mean  and  ridiculous  verse  did  in  the  play  Chrysippus 

43.  Tlie  sun  never  covets  the  properties  of  a 
shower,  nor  does  ^sculapius  interfere  with  the  fruit- 
bearing  god.  Are  not  the  stars  different  from  each 
other  ?  And  yet  their  influences  work  towards  the 
same  end. 

44.  If  the  gods  have  decreed  anything  concerning 
me  or  my  business,  they  have  decreed  my  advantage. 
For  it  is  absurd  to  suppose  that  they  are  mistaken  in 
their  measures,  or  not  benevolent  in  their  design.  For 
to  what  purpose  should  they  intend  me  any  harm  ? 
What  would  themselves,  or  the  universe,  the  special 
object  of  their  providence,  gain  by  it  ?  But  granting 
they  have  made  no  particular  provision  for  me,  yet  since 
their  government  of  the  w^orld  is  not  disputed,  the 
consequence  will  be  much  the  same.  And  why,  then, 
should  I  not  be  contented  with  whatever  hapj)ens  as  a 
consequence  of  the  universal  whole  ?  To  put  the  case 
further.  Suppose  the  gods  take  care  of  nothing  (which, 
by  the  way,  we  must  reckon  a  scandalous  opinion), 
then  it  will  be  high  time  to  leave  off  the  common 
solemnities  of  sacrificing,  prayers  and  religious  swear- 
ing, and  all  those  observances  which  we  keep  as  though 
the  gods  were  present  and   dwelling  with   us.      If  the 


o-ods,  therefore,  will  take  care  of  none  of  us,  it  is  cer- 
tainly  lawful  for  me  to  take  care  of  myself.  Now,  it 
is  my  right  to  consider  my  own  convenience,  and  what 
is  that  ?  Why,  that  is  convenient  for  every  one,  which 
suits  his  nature  and  his  constitution.  Now  reason  and 
social  principles  are  suited  to  my  nature.  Take  me, 
then,  under  the  particular  distinction  of  Antoninus, 
and  Rome  is  my  town  and  country ;  but  consider  me 
as  a  man  in  general,  and  I  belong  to  the  corporation 
of  the  world.  That,  therefore,  and  only  that  which 
is  serviceable  to  both  these  societies,  is  an  advantage 
to  me. 

45.  Whatever  happens  to  particulars,  is  serviceable 
to  the  universe,  that  thought  might  satisfy.  But  we 
can  carry  the  reasons  for  acquiescence  farther,  for 
upon  observation  you  will  perceive  that  what  is  profit- 
able to  one  man,  is  in  some  measure  for  the  interest  of 
the  rest.  And  here  I  take  the  word  profit  in  the 
common  meaning  of  things  neither  good  nor  bad. 

46.  You  may  remember  that  at  a  play,  or  such 
like  diversion,  the  same  thing  coming  over  and  over 
ao-ain  tires  the  sense,  and  extinguishes  the  pleasure. 
Remove  this  contemplation  into  life  ;  for  here  all  things 
come  round,  and  bring  the  same  causes  and  appear- 
ances along  with  them.  How  long,  then,  will  this 
last  ? 

47.  Consider  with  yourself  that  people  of  all  con- 
ditions, professions,  and  countries  are  dead,  if  you 
cast  your  eyes  back  as  far  as  Philistion,  Phoebus,  or 
Oriaanion.  Now  turn  towards  the  other  classes  of 
men.      And  we  must  take  our  curn,  too,  with  the  rest. 


and  remove  to  the  same  place  whither  so  many  famous 
orators  and  great  philosophers,  such  as  Heraclitus, 
Pythagoras,  and  Socrates  have  si  1  own  us  the  way.  So 
many  heroes  and  generals  and  princes,  and  besides 
Eudoxus,  Hipparchus,  and  Archimedes,  not  to  men- 
tion a  great  many  other  extraordinary  geniuses,  per- 
sons of  industry,  wit,  spirit,  and  versatility  and  con- 
fidence ;  they  are  all  gone  ;  even  those  buffoons, 
who,  like  Menippus,  mocked  at  this  perishable  and 
transitory  existence.  Remember  they  are  all  in  their 
graves.  And  where  is  the  harm  of  all  this  ?  nay, 
what  are  those  the  worse  for  it,  that  have  not  so  much 
as  left  their  own  names  behind  them  ?  In  a  word, 
there  is  only  one  thing  here  worth  the  minding,  and 
that  is,  to  be  true  and  just,  and  to  show  benevolence, 
even  to  the  untrue  and  unjust. 

48.  When  you  have  a  mind  to  divert  your  fancy, 
consider  the  good  qualities  of  your  acquaintance ;  as 
the  enterprising  vigour  of  this  man,  the  modesty  of  an- 
other, the  liberality  of  a  third,  and  so  on.  For  there 
is  nothing  so  entertaining  as  a  lively  image  of  the 
virtues  exhibited  in  the  character  of  those  we  converse 
with,  occurring  as  numerously  as  possible.  Let  this, 
therefore,  be  always  at  hand. 

49.  You  are  not  angry  because  you  weigh  so  light 
in  the  scale,  and  do  not  ride  forty  stone.  Why,  then, 
should  you  be  dissatisfied  because  your  life  is  not 
drawn  out  to  an  unusual  and  extraordinary  period  ? 
You  ought  to  be  no  more  covetous  of  time  than  you  are 
of  bulk,  but  be  contented  with  your  own  allowance. 

50.  It  is  good  to   try  to  bring  people  to  a  riglit 

1  oo  MEDITA  TIONS. 

understanding  of  the  case  ;  but  if  they  are  unwilling, 
be  governed  by  the  law  of  justice.  If  there  comes  a 
force  upon  you  and  stops  your  progress,  abandon  it 
and  be  easy,  and  make  a  virtue  of  necessity.  Re- 
member that  you  undertook  the  business  upon  the 
condition  of  its  being  feasible,  and  never  pretended  to 
grasp  at  impossibilities.  What  was  it,  then,  you 
aimed  at  ?  Why,  to  do  your  best  in  your  effort. 
Right  !  And  this  may  be  effectually  done,  though 
the  enterprise  should  happen  to  miscarry. 

51.  The  ambitious  person  lodges  his  happiness  in 
the  activity  of  another,  the  voluptuary  in  his  own 
affections,  but  a  man  of  understanding  places  his  good 
in  his  own  action. 

52.  We  are  at  liberty  not  to  misinterpret  any 
accident,  and  by  consequence  may  be  free  from  dis- 
turbance. Things  have  no  natural  power  over 
thoughts  to  influence  our  judgment. 

53.  Accustom  yourself  to  attend  to  what  is  dis- 
coursed, and  as  far  as  you  can  get  into  the  soul  of  him 
that  speaks. 

54.  That  which  is  not  for  the  interest  of  the  whole 
swarm  is  not  for  the  interest  of  a  single  bee. 

55.  If  the  patient  rails  at  the  doctor,  or  the  crew 
at  the  master  of  the  vessel,  w4iom  will  they  mind,  or 
how  can  the  doctor  secure  their  health,  or  the  master 
of  the  vessel  a  good  voyage  ? 

h^.  How  many  people  that  came  into  the  world 
with  me  are  gone  out  of  it  already  ? 

57.  Honey  tastes  bitter  to  the  jaundiced,  and 
people  bitten  by  a  mad  dog  are  frightened  at  the  sight 


of  water.  And  on  the  other  hand,  a  little  ball  is  a 
beautiful  thing  to  a  child.  This  considered,  why 
should  you  be  angry  with  any  one  ?  Can  you  imagine 
that  error  has  less  force  upon  the  mind  than  a  little 
bile  or  poison  upon  the  body  ? 

58.  As  nobody  can  rob  you  of  the  privileges  of 
your  nature,  or  force  you  to  live  counter  to  your  rea- 
son, so  nothing  can  happen  to  you  but  what  is  con- 
sistent with  the  interest  of  the  universe. 

59.  Consider  with  yourself  what  sort  of  people 
men  must  court,  and  for  what  base  objects  and  by 
wliat  scandalous  actions.  And  then  how  time  will 
cover  all  things,  and  how  many  it  has  covered  already. 




1.  llg''5g!^aflCS^ HAT  is  wickedness  ?  What  you  "have 
often  seen.  When  you  are  in  clanger 
of  being  shocked,  consider  that  the 
sight  is  nothing  but  what  you  have 
frequently  seen  already.  Everywhere 
up  and  down,  ages  and  histories,  towns  and  families, 
are  full  of  the  same  stories.  There  is  nothing  new 
to  be  met  with ;  but  all  things  are  common,  and 
quickly  over. 

2.  Opinions,  whether  right  or  wrong,  can  never  be 
pulled  out  of  your  head,  unless  the  impressions  on 
which  they  rest  are  first  removed.  It  is  in  your  power 
to  kindle  tliem  afresh,  or  to  form  a  right  judgment 
upon  the  present  emergency.  And  why,  then,  should 
I  be  disturbed  at  it  ?  For  nothing  that  does  not 
enter  my  mind,  and  get  within  me,  can  hurt  me. 
Hold  to  this,  and  you  are  safe.  Come,  I  will  tell  you 
a  way  how  you  may  live  your  time  over  again.  Do 
but  recollect,  and  review  what  you  have  seen  already, 
and  the  work  is  done. 

3.  Gazing  after  shows,  the  diversions  of  the  stage, 
farms  well  stocked  with  flocks  and  herds,  contests  for 
victory  in  the  field  are  all  much  the  same.      So,  too,  a 


bone  thrown  to  puppies,  fishes  scrambling  for  a  bait, 
ants  laboriously  carrying  a  grain  of  wheat,  mice 
frighted  out  of  their  wits  and  running  away,  puppets 
danced  upon  a  wire.  And  in  the  midst  of  them  a 
wise  man  must  be  good-humoured,  and  not  grow 
haughty  in  the  contemplation.  Remembering,  not- 
withstanding, that  the  true  w^orth  of  a  man  is  to  be 
measured  by  the  objects  he  pursues. 

4.  Do  not  let  either  discourse  or  action  pass  unob- 
served; attend  to  the  sense  and  signification  of  the  one, 
and  to  the  tendency  and  design  of  the  other. 

5.  Is  my  intellect  sufficient  for  this  business  or 
not  ?  If  it  is,  I  will  make  use  of  my  talent  as  given 
me  by  heaven  for  that  purpose.  If  not,  I  will  either 
let  it  alone,  and  resign  it  to  a  better  capacity,  unless 
that  be  contrary  to  my  duty,  or  else  I  will  do  what  I 
can.  I  will  give  my  advice,  and  put  the  executing 
part  into  an  abler  hand,  and  thus  the  right  moment 
and  the  general  interest  may  be  secured.  For  what- 
soever I  act,  either  by  myself,  or  in  conjunction  wath 
another,  I  am  always  to  aim  at  the  advantage  of  the 

6.  How  many  famous  men  are  dropped  out  of 
history  and  forgotten  ?  And  how  many,  that  pro- 
mised to  keep  up  other  people's  names,  have  lost  their 
own  ? 

7.  Never  be  ashamed  of  assistance.  Like  a  soldier 
at  the  storming  of  a  town,  your  business  is  to  maintain 
your  post,  and  execute  your  orders.  Now  suppose 
you  happen  to  be  lame  at  an  assault,  and  cannot  mount 
the  breach  upon  your  own  feet,  will  you  not  suffer  your 
comrade  to  help  you  ? 


8.  Be  not  disturbed  about  the  future,  for  if  ever 
jT^ou  come  to  it,  you  will  have  the  same  reason  for 
your  guide,  which  preserves  j^ou  at  present. 

9.  All  parts  of  the  universe  are  interwoven  and 
tied  together  with  a  sacred  bond.  And  no  one  thing 
is  foreign  or  unrelated  to  another.  This  general  con- 
nection gives  unity  and  ornament  to  the  world.  For 
the  world,  take  it  altogether,  is  but  one.  There  is 
but  one  sort  of  matter  to  make  it  of;  one  God  that 
pervades  it ;  and  one  law  to  guide  it,  the  common 
reason  of  all  rational  beings ;  and  one  truth  ;  if,  indeed, 
beings  of  the  same  kind,  and  endued  with  the  same 
reason,  have  one  and  the  same  perfection. 

10.  Everything  material  quickly  disappears  into 
the  universal  matter.  And  everything  causal  is 
quickly  absorbed  into  the  universal  reason.  Aud 
the  memory  of  everything  is  quickly  overwhelmed 
by  time. 

11.  With  rational  beings  action  in  accordance  with 
nature  and  reason  is  the  same  thing. 

12.  Either  stand  upright  upon  your  own  legs,  or 
upon  your  crutches. 

1 3.  Just  as  connection  creates  sympathy  in  the  mem- 
bers of  the  body,  so  relation  of  nature  does  the  same 
thing  among  rational  beings.  For  though  separate  in 
space,  they  seem  all  made  to  co-operate  with  each  other. 
This  thought  will  be  more  intelligible  and  affecting,  if 
you  frequently  consider  yourself  as  a  member  of  the 
rational  system.  But  if  you  reckon  yourself  only  a 
part,  you  do  not  yet  love  mankind  with  all  your  heart. 

A  generous  action  does  not  yet  delight  you  from  con- 



viction  ;  you  do  a  good  office  merely  for  fashion  and 
decency,  but  not  as  if  it  were  really  a  kindness  to 

14.  Let  accidents  happen  to  such  as  are  liable  to 
the  impression,  and  those  that  feel  misfortune  may 
complain  of  it,  if  they  please.  As  for  me,  let  what 
will  come,  I  can  receive  no  damage  by  it,  unless  I 
think  it  a  calamity  ;  and  it  is  in  my  power  to  think  it 
none,  if  I  have  a  mind  to  it. 

15.  Let  people's  tongues  and  actions  be  what  they 
will,  my  business  is  to  be  good.  And  make  the  same 
speech  to  myself,  that  a  piece  of  gold,  or  an  emerald, 
or  purple  should.  Let  people  talk  and  act  as  they 
please ;  I  must  be  an  emerald,  and  I  must  keep  my 

1 6.  Does  the  mind  ever  cause  herself  disturbance  ? 
Does  she  bring  fears  and  passions  upon  herself? 
Let  any  other  body  try  to  frighten  or  trouble  her  if 
they  can,  for  of  her  own  conviction  she  will  not  turn  to 
such  impressions.  And  as  for  this  small  carcass,  let  it 
take  care  not  to  feel,  and  if  it  does,  say  so.  But  the 
soul,  the  seat  of  passion  and  pain,  which  forms  an  opinion 
on  these  things,  need  suffer  nothing,  unless  she  throws 
herself  into  these  fancies  and  fears.  For  the  mind  is 
in  her  own  nature  self-sufficient,  and  must  create  her 
wants  before  she  can  feel  them.  This  privilege  makes 
her  undisturbed  and  above  restraint,  unless  she  teazes 
and  puts  fetters  upon  herself 

17.  Happiness  is  the  possession  of  a  good  genius 
or  goodness.  Why  then  does  fancy  break  in  and 
disturb   the   scene  %     Begone  !    by   the  gods,  as  you 


came  ;  I  do  not  want  you  !  However,  since  you  have 
custom  to  plead  in  your  excuse,  withdraw,  and  I  will 
forgive  you. 

18.  Is  anyone  afraid  of  change  ?  I  would  gladly 
know  what  can  be  done  without  it  ?  and  what  is  dearer 
and  more  suitable  to  the  universal  nature  ?  Pray, 
must  not  your  wood  be  transformed  before  your  bath 
can  be  ready  for  you  ?  Must  not  your  meat  be 
changed  to  make  it  fit  to  nourish  you  ?  Indeed,  what 
part  of  life  or  convenience  can  go  forward  without 
alteration  ?  Now,  in  all  likelihood  a  change  in  your 
condition  may  be  as  serviceable  to  the  world  in  general, 
as  those  alterations  above  mentioned  are  to  you. 

19.  All  particular  bodies  are  hurried  as  through  a 
swift  torrent  through  the  universal  mass  of  which 
they  are  incorporate,  like  a  sort  of  serviceable  limbs 
to  the  world.  How  many  a  Chrysippus,  Socrates,  and 
Epictetus  have  sunk  in  the  gulf  of  time  ?  And  the 
same  reflection  will  hold  good  concerning  any  other 
person  or  thing  whatsoever. 

20.  I  am  only  solicitous  about  one  thing,  and  that 
is,  lest  I  should  do  something  that  the  constitution  of 
man  does  not  permit,  or  in  the  way  or  time  it  does 
not  permit. 

21.  It  will  not  be  long  before  you  will  have  for- 
gotten all  the  world,  and  in  a  little  time  all  the  world 
will  forget  you  too. 

22.  It  is  the  privilege  of  human  nature  to  love 
those  that  disoblige  us.  To  practise  this,  you  must 
consider  that  the  offending  party  is  of  kin  to  you,  that 
iornorance  is  the  cause  of  the   misbehaviour,    and   the 


fault  is  involuntary,  that  you  will  both  of  you  quickly 
be  in  your  graves  ;  but  especially  consider  that  you 
have  received  no  harm  by  the  injury,  for  your  mind  is 
never  the  worse  for  it. 

23.  The  universal  nature  works  the  universal 
matter  like  wax.  Now  for  the  purpose,  it  is  a  horse  ; 
soon  after  you  will  have  it  melted  down,  and  run  into 
the  figure  of  a  tree,  then  a  man,  then  something 
else.  And  it  is  but  a  little  while  that  it  is  fixed  in 
one  species.  Now  a  trunk  feels  no  more  pain  by  being 
knocked  in  pieces  than  when  it  was  first  put  together. 

24.  A  sour  gruff  look  is  very  unnatural,  and  to  put 
it  on  often  will  make  it  settle,  and  destroy  the  beauty 
and  pleasantness  of  the  aspect  to  that  degree  that  it 
is  never  to  be  recovered :  from  whence  you  may  conclude 
it  is  a  foolish  custom.  It  is  high  time  for  those  people 
to  die  that  have  outlived  the  sense  of  their  own  mis- 

25.  That  being  which  governs  nature  will  quickly 
change  the  present  face  of  it.  One  thing  will  be 
made  out  of  another  by  frequent  revolutions.  And 
thus  the  world  will  be  always  new. 

26.  When  anyone  misbehaves  himself  towards  3^ou, 
immediately  bethink  yourself  what  notions  he  has  con- 
cerning advantage  and  disadvantage.  When  you  have 
found  out  this,  you  will  pity  him,  and  neither  be 
angry  nor  surprised  at  the  matter.  It  may  be  upon 
enquiry  you  may  find  your  opinions  upon  these  points 
much  the  same,  and  then  you  ought  to  pardon  him. 
But  if  your  notions  of  good  and  evil  are  different,  then 
you  will  more  easily  bear  with  his  ignorance. 



27.  Do  not  let  your  head  run  upon  that  which  is 
none  of  your  own,  but  pick  out  some  of  the  best  of 
your  circumstances,  and  consider  how  eagerly  you 
would  wish  for  them,  were  they  not  in  your  possession  ; 
but  then  you  must  take  care  to  keep  your  satisfaction 
within  compass,  for  fear  it  should  carry  yoa  too  far, 
make  you  over-value  the  object,  and  be  disturbed  at 
the  loss  of  it. 

28.  Rely  upon  yourself,  for  it  is  the  nature  of  the 
principle  that  rules  within  us,  to  be  satisfied  with 
honesty,  and  the  inward  quiet  consequent  to  it. 

29.  Rub  out  the  colours  of  imagination.  Do  not 
suffer  your  passions  to  make  a  puppet  of  you.  Confine 
your  care  to  the  present.  Look  through  that  which 
happens  either  to  yourself  or  another.  Distinguish 
the  parts  of  your  subject,  and  divide  them  into  the 
causal  and  material  element.  Think  upon  your  last  hour, 
and  do  not  trouble  yourself  about  other  people's  faults, 
but  leave  them  with  those  that  must  answer  for  them. 

30.  When  you  hear  a  discourse,  make  your  under- 
standing keep  pace  with  it,  and  reach  as  far  as  you 
can  into  events  and  their  causes. 

31.  Would  you  set  off  your  person,  and  recommend 
yourself?  Let  it  be  done  by  simplicity,  by  modesty 
of  behaviour,  and  by  indifference  to  things  neither 
good  nor  bad.  Love  mankind  and  resign  to  provi- 
dence. For  as  the  poet  observes,  "All  things  are 
under  law,"  not  the  elements  only,  but  it  suffices  to 
remember  that  there  are  at  the  most  but  very  few 
things  in  the  world  that  are  not  under  law. 

82.   Concerning  death  :  It  is  a  dispersion  if  there 


are  atoms ;  but  if  the  universe  is  a  unity,  it  is  either 
extinction  or  change. 

33.  As  for  pain,  if  it  is  intolerable  it  will  quickly 
dispatch  you.  If  it  stays  long  it  is  bearable.  Your 
mind  in  the  meantime  preserves  herself  calm  by  the 
strength  of  the  opining  faculty,  and  suffers  nothing. 
And  for  your  limbs  that  are  hurt  by  the  pain,  if  they 
can  complain,  let  them  do  it. 

34.  As  for  fame,  consider  the  intellect  of  the 
people  that  are  to  commend,  how  insignificant  they 
are,  and  how  little  in  their  pursuits  and  aversions. 
Consider  also  that  as'^  one  heap  of  sand  thrown  upon 
another  covers  the  first,  so  it  happens  in  life,  a  new 
glory  soon  eclipses  an  old  one. 

35.  A  saying  of  Plato,  ''  He  that  has  raised  his 
mind  to  a  due  pitch  of  greatness,  that  has  carried  his 
view  through  the  whole  extent  of  matter  and  time, 
do  you  imagine  such  an  one  will  think  much  of  human 
life  ?  Not  at  all  (says  the  other  man  in  the  dialogue). 
What  then  ?  Will  the  fear  of  death  afflict  him  ?  Far 
from  it." 

36.  Antisthenes  said,  "It  is  a  royal  thing  to  be 
ill  spoken  of  for  good  deeds." 

37.  It  is  a  shame  that  a  man  should  be  master  of 
his  countenance,  and  compose  or  control  it  as  the  mind 
directs,  while  that  mind  is  not  controlled  by  itself 

38.  "Ne'er  fret  at  accidents,  for  things  are  sullen. 

And  don't  regard  your  anger." 

39.  "To  the  immortal  gods  and  us  give  joy." 

40.  "  Fate  mows  down  life  like  corn,  this  mortal  falls; 

The  other  stands  awhile." 

MED  IT  A  TIONS.  1 1 3 

41.  "  If  I  and  mine  are  by  the  gods  neglected, 

There's  reason  for  their  rigour." 

42.  ''  For  the  good  is  with  me  and  the  just." 

43.  "No  joining  others  in  their  wailing,  no  violent 

44.  More  of  Plato's  sentences: — "To  such  a  one  I 
should  return  this  very  reasonable  answer,  Hark  ye, 
friend,  you  are  mightily  out  if  you  think  a  man  that 
is  good  for  anything  is  either  afraid  of  living  or  dying. 
No;  his  concern  is  only  whether  in  doing  anything  he 
is  doing  right  or  wrong — acting  the  part  of  a  good 
man  or  a  bad." 

45.  Plato  again: — "In  my  opinion,  when  a  man 
holds  a  post  with  his  own  choice,  or  has  been  put  into 
it  by  his  superior,  his  business  is  to  remain  there  in 
the  hour  of  danger,  and  fear  nothing  but  disgrace  and 

46.  Plato  once  more  : — "  With  your  favour,  sir,  it 
is  not  always  the  part  of  virtue  and  bravery  to  pre- 
serve either  your  own  life  or  your  neighbour's.  He 
that  is  a  man  in  good  earnest  must  not  be  so  mean  as 
to  whine  for  life,  and  grasp  intemperately  at  old  age  : 
let  him  leave  this  point  to  Providence.  The  women 
can  tell  him  that  we  must  go  when  our  time  is  come. 
His  duty  is  to  consider  how  he  may  make  the  most  of 
his  life,  and  spend  what  there  is  to  the  best  advantage." 

47.  Consider  the  course  of  the  stars  as  if  you  were 
driving  through  the  sky  with  them.  Let  the  trans- 
mutation of  the  elements  be  frequently  the  subject  of 
your  meditation.  Such  contemplations  as  these  scour 
off  the  rust  contracted  by  dwelling  here  below. 

1 1 4  MED  IT  A  TIOJSjS. 

48.  It  is  a  fiae  sa3dr]g  that  of  Plato's  : — "  That 
when  we  consider  the  state  and  condition  of  man- 
kind, we  should  place  our  imagination  upon  some  lofty 
pyramid,  and  from  thence  take  a  prospect  of  the  world, 
and  look  it  over  as  it  were  at  one  view.  Here  we 
may  see  flocks,  armies,  husbandry,  marriages  and 
separations,  births  and  deaths,  clamours  of  the  law 
courts,  desert  places,  variety  of  barbarous  people,  feasts, 
lamentations,  and  markets.  Take  it  altogether,  it  is  a 
strange  medley.  And  yet  you  will  find  the  diversity 
of  the  parts  contributes  to  the  harmony  of  the  whole." 

49.  By  looking  back  into  history,  and  considering 
the  fate  and  revolutions  of  government,  you  will  be 
able  to  draw  a  guess,  and  almost  prophesy  upon  the 
future ;  for  they  will  certainly  be  of  the  same  nature, 
and  cannot  but  be  cast  in  the  same  mould.  So  that 
forty  years  of  human  life  may  serve  for  a  sample  of 
ten  thousand.      For  what  more  will  you  see  ? 

50.  "  What's  sprung  from  earth  dissolves  to  earth 

And  heaven-born  things  fly  to  their  native 

That  is,  there  is  a  loosing  of  the  entanglements  of  the 
atoms,  and  a  scattering  abroad  of  the  insensible  elements. 

51.  '^  With  food,  and  drinks,  and  cunning  magic  arts, 

Turning  the   channel's  course  to  'scape  from 
"  The  breeze  which  heaven  has  sent 
We  must  endure,  and  toil  without  complaint.'* 

52.  Can  another  man  ride  or  fence  better  than 
you  ?     It  may  be  so.      Let  nobody  outdo  you  in  social 

MED  IT  A  TIONS.  1 1 5 

and  modest  behaviour.      Let  nobody  be  more  resigned 
to  fate  and  forgiving  to  his  neighbours. 

53.  As  long  as  a  man  can  make  use  of  that  reason 
which  he  shares  with  the  gods  and  man,  he  need 
not  question  the  event.  There  can  be  no  grounds 
to  suspect  misfortune,  provided  you  stick  closG  to 
nature  and  act  in  accordance  with  your  condition. 

54.  It  is  always  and  everywhere  in  your  power  to 
resign  to  the  gods,  to  be  just  to  mankind,  and  to 
examine  every  impression  with  such  care  that  nothing 
may  enter  that  is  not  well  examined. 

55.  Never  make  any  rambling  enquiries  affcer  other 
people's  thoughts,  but  look  directly  at  the  mark  which 
nature  has  set  you.  Nature,  I  say,  either  that  of  the 
universe  or  your  own ;  the  first  leads  you  to  submis- 
sion to  Providence,  the  latter  to  act  as  becomes  you. 
Now  that  which  is  suitable  to  the  frame  and  constitu- 
tion of  things  is  what  becomes  them.  To  be  more 
particular,  the  rest  of  the  world  is  designed  for  the 
service  of  rational  beings  in  consequence  of  this  general 
appointment,  by  which  the  lower  order  of  things  are 
made  for  the  use  of  the  more  noble.  And  rational 
creatures  are  designed  for  the  advantasfe  of  each  other. 
Now  a  social  temper  is  that  which  human  nature  was 
principally  intended  for ;  the  next  thing  designed  in 
our  being  is  to  be  proof  against  corporeal  impressions, 
it  being  the  peculiar  privilege  of  reason  to  move  within 
herself,  and  not  suffer  sensation  or  passion  to  break  in 
upon  her  ;  for  these  are  both  of  animal  and  inferior 
quality.  But  the  understanding  part  claims  a  right 
to  govern,  and  will  not  bend  to  matter  and  appetite  ; 


and  good  reason  for  it,  since  she  was  born  to  command 
and  make  use  of  them.  The  third  main  requisite  in 
a  rational  being  is  to  secure  the  assent  from  rashness 
and  mistake.  Let  your  mind  but  compass  these 
points,  and  stick  to  them,  and  then  she  is  mistress  of 
everything  which  belongs  to  her. 

56.  We  ought  to  spend  the  remainder  of  our  life 
according  to  nature,  as  if  we  were  already  dead,  and 
had  come  to  the  end  of  our  term. 

57.  Let  your  fate  be  your  only  inclination,  for 
there  is  nothing  more  reasonable. 

58.  When  any  accident  happens,  call  to  mind  those 
who  have  formerly  been  under  the  same  circum- 
stances, how  full  of  surprise,  complaint,  and  trouble 
they  were  about  the  matter.  And  where  are  they 
now  ?  They  are  gone,  their  murmuring  could  not 
make  them  immortal.  To  what  purpose  should  you 
imitate  their  behaviour  ?  Cannot  you  leave  these 
foreign  emotions  to  those  who  cause  them,  and  those 
who  are  moved  by  them  ?  Your  business  is  only  to 
consider  how  you  may  give  a  turn  of  advantage  to  the 
emergency.  Now  you  can  make  good  use  of  them, 
and  they  will  supply  excellent  material,  if  you  will 
but  take  care,  and  do  nothing  but  what  is  warrantable. 
Always  remembering,  that  whether  you  use  it  ill  or 
well,  the  thing  wherewith  action  is  concerned,  is  in 
both  cases  indifferent. 

59.  Look  inwards,  for  you  have  a  lasting  fountain 
of  happiness  at  home  that  will  always  bubble  up  if 
you  will  but  dig  for  it. 

60.  Take  care  that  your  motions  and  gestures  may 

MEDITA  TIONS.  1 1 7 

be  grave  and  composed,  for  the  same  air  of  sense  and 
decency  which  the  mind  can  put  into  the  face  ought 
to  be  visible  through  the  whole  body,  but  then  all 
this  must  be  done  without  the  least  affectation. 

61.  The  art  of  living  resembles  wrestling  more  than 
dancing,  for  here  a  man  does  not  know  his  movement 
and  his  measures  beforehand.  No,  he  is  obliged  to 
stand  strong  against  chance,  and  secure  himself  as 
occasion  shall  offer. 

62.  Consider  what  sort  of  people  are  they  that 
must  commend  you,  and  how  are  their  understandings 
furnished.  Truly,  if  you  do  but  consider  the  source 
of  their  opinions  and  passions,  you  will  pity  their 
ignorant  misbehaviour,  and  not  care  a  rush  for  their 

63.  It  is  a  saying  of  Plato's,  that  no  soul  misses 
truth  of  her  own  good-will.  The  same  may  be  said 
with  reference  to  justice,  sobriety,  good-nature,  and 
the  like.  Be  particularly  careful  to  remember  this,  for 
it  will  help  to  sweeten  your  temper  towards  all  men. 

64.  When  you  lie  under  any  corporeal  affliction,  let 
this  thought  be  at  hand  to  relieve  you  :  that  there  is 
no  disgrace  in  pain,  that  the  sovereign  part  of  your 
mind  is  never  the  worse  for  it.  For  how  can  she 
suffer  unless  her  material  or  her  social  nature  be 
impaired  ?  Besides,  Epicurus's  maxim  will  help  to 
support  you  under  most  pains  ;  for  as  he  observes, 
they  will  neither  be  intolerable  nor  everlasting.  But 
then  you  must  keep  in  mind  the  limits  set  to  them,  and 
not  run  into  the  common  opinion  about  them.  And 
here  you  must  remember  that  there  are  many  more 


sensations  than  we  are  aware  of,  whicli  belong  to  the 
nature  of  pain,  such  as  drowsiness,  excessive  heat, 
want  of  appetite.  Now,  when  you  find  yourself  fret 
and  grow  disturbed  at  these  things,  take  notice  that 
pain  has  got  the  better  of  you. 

^o.  Do  not  return  the  temper  of  ill-natured  people 
upon  themselves,  nor  treat  them  as  they  do  the  rest  of 

^^.  Which  way  are  we  to  conclude  that  Socrates 
was  a  better  man  in  virtue  and  temper  than  Telauges  ? 
To  make  out  this,  it  is  not  enough  to  say  that  he  dis- 
puted better  with  the  sophists,  and  died  more  bravely  ; 
that  he  passed  the  night  in  the  cold  with  more  endur- 
ance, and  that  when  he  was  bidden  to  arrest  Leon  of 
Salamis,  he  held  it  nobler  to  refuse  ;  that  he  walked 
with  a  swaggering  air  in  the  streets,  though  the  truth 
of  this  last  particular  may  be  questioned.  To  prove 
the  point,  we  must  examine  what  sort  of  soul  Socrates 
carried  about  with  him.  Could  he  be  contented  with 
the  conscience  of  an  honest  and  a  pious  man  ?  Did 
he  abstain  from  fretting  and  fuming  to  no  purpose  at 
the  knavery  and  wickedness  of  the  age  ?  Was  he 
governed  by  nobody's  ignorance  ?  Did  he  never 
question  the  equity  of  Providence,  grow  surprised  at 
his  hard  fortune,  and  sink  under  the  weight  of  it,  and 
not  dip  his  soul  too  deep  in  his  senses  ? 

67.  Nature  has  not  wrought  your  composition  so 
close  that  you  cannot  withdraw  within  your  own 
limits,  and  do  your  own  business  yourself ;  for  a  man 
may  be  first-rate  in  virtue  and  true  value,  and  yet  be 
very  obscure   at  the  same  time.      You  may  likewise 

MED  IT  A  TIONS.  1 1 9 

observe  that  happiness  has  very  few  wants.  Granting 
your  talent  will  not  reach  very  far  into  logic,  this  cannot 
hinder  the  freedom  of  your  mind,  nor  deprive  you  of 
the  blessings  of  sobriety,  beneficence,  and  resignation. 

68.  You  may  live  with  all  the  freedom  and  satis- 
faction imaginable,  though  the  whole  world  should 
cry  you  down ;  nay,  though  wild  beasts  should  tear  this 
flesh  with  which  you  are  enveloped.  For  pray,  how 
can  anything  of  this  reach  up  to  your  mind  and  ruflfle 
her  sereuit}^  ?  How  can  it  prevent  your  passing  a 
right  judgment  upon  your  circumstances,  and  making 
the  best  use  of  them  ?  And  thus  your  reason  may 
address  the  object  of  terror :  "  Look  you  !  nature  has 
made  you  one  tiling,  and  common  mistake  another." 
And  use  may  address  what  befalls,  "'It  is  you  I  was 
seeking."  For  it  is  my  way  to  make  everything  serve 
as  an  opportunity  for  rational  or  social  virtue  in  a 
performance  of  some  duty  either  to  God  or  man.  For 
since  all  that  happens  is  related  to  God  or  man,  there  is 
nothing  new  in  it  or  difficult  to  deal  with,  but  all  is 
familiar  and  easy. 

69.  He  that  is  come  to  the  top  of  wisdom  and 
practice,  spends  every  day  as  if  it  were  his  last,  and 
is  never  guilty  of  over- excitement,  sluggishness,  or 

70.  Though  the  gods  are  immortal,  and  have  their 
patience  tried  through  so  many  ages,  yet  they  are  not 
angry,  because  for  so  long  a  time  they  will  have  to 
put  up  with  such  base  and  wretched  mortals,  but  even 
provide  liberally  for  them.  And  are  you,  that  are 
just  going  off  the  stage,  sick  of  the  company  ?  are 


you  tired  with  evil  men  already,  and  yet  one  of  those 
unhappy  mortals  yourself? 

71.  It  is  great  folly  not  to  part  with  your  own 
faults  which  is  possible,  but  to  try  instead  to  escape 
from  other  people's  faults,  which  is  impossible. 

72.  Whatever  business  tends  neither  to  the  im- 
provement of  your  reason,  nor  the  benefit  of  society, 
the  rational  and  social  faculty  thinks  beneath  it. 

73.  When  you  have  done  a  kindness,  and  your 
neighbour  is  the  better  for  it,  why  need  you  be  so 
foolish  as  to  look  any  farther,  and  gape  for  reputation 
and  requital  ? 

74.  Nobody  is  ever  tired  of  advantages.  Now  to 
act  in  conformity  to  the  laws  of  nature  is  certainly  an 
advantage.  Do  not  you  therefore  grow  weary  of  doing 
good  ofiices,  whereby  you  receive  the  advantage. 

75.  There  was  a  time  when  the  universal  nature 
moved  towards  making  the  world.  So  that  now  all 
events  must  either  be  consequences  of  the  first  crea- 
tion, or  else  even  the  chief  things  at  which  the 
universal  ruling  principle  aims  are  without  design. 
Now  this  thought  will  go  a  great  way  towards  making 
a  man  easy. 





^'  IK^"  Jtf|Q  keep  you  modest  and  free  from  vain 
glory,  remember  that  it  is  no  longer 
in  your  power  to  spend  your  life 
wholly,  from  youth  upwards,  in  the 
pursuit  of  wisdom.  Your  friends  and 
yourself,  too,  are  sufficiently  acquainted  how  much 
you  fall  short  of  philosophy ;  you  have  been  liable  to 
disturbance,  so  that  the  bare  report  of  being  a  philo- 
sopher is  no  longer  an  easy  matter  for  you  to  compass  ; 
you  are  unqualified  by  your  station.  However,  since 
you  know  how  to  come  at  the  thing,  never  be  con- 
cerned about  missing  the  credit.  Be  satisfied,  there- 
fore, and  for  the  rest  of  your  life  let  your  own  rational 
Qature  direct  you.  Mind,  then,  what  she  desires,  and 
et  nothmg  foreign  disturb  you.  You  are  very  sensible 
low  much  you  have  rambled  after  happiness,  and 
kiled.  Neither  learning,  nor  wealth,  nor  fame,  nor 
Dleasure  could  ever  help  you  to  it.  Which  way  is  it 
to  be  had  then  ?  By  acting  up  to  the  height  of 
luiman  nature.  And  how  shall  a  man  do  this  ?  Why, 
by  getting  a  right  set  of  principles  for  impulses  and 
Ructions.       And    what   principles    are    those  ?       Such 

is    state    and    distinguish    good    and    evil.      Such  as 



give  us  to  understand  that  there  is  nothing  properly 
good  for  a  man  but  what  promotes  the  virtues  of 
justice,  temperance,  fortitude,  and  independence,  nor 
anything  bad  for  him,  but  that  which  carries  him  off 
to  the  contrary  vices. 

2.  At  every  action  ask  yourself  this  question.  What 
will  the  consequence  of  this  be  to  me  ?  Am  I  not 
likely  to  repent  of  it  ?  I  shall  be  dead  in  a  little 
time,  and  then  all  is  over  with  me.  If  the  present 
undertaking  is  but  suitable  to  an  intelligent  and 
sociable  being,  and  one  that  has  the  honour  to  live  by 
the  same  rule  and  reason  with  God  himself  ;  if  the 
case  stands  thus,  all  is  well,  and  to  what  purpose 
should  you  look  any  farther  ? 

3.  Alexander,  Julius  Caesar,  and  Pompey,  what 
were  they  in  comparison  of  Diogenes,  Heraclitus,  and 
Socrates  ?  These  philosophers  looked  through  things 
and  their  causes,  and  their  ruling  principles  were  in 
accordance.  But  as  for  those  great  princes,  what  a 
load  of  cares  were  they  pestered  with,  and  to  how 
many  things  were  they  slaves  ! 

4.  People  will  play  the  same  pranks  over  and  over 
again,  though  you  should  burst. 

5.  In  the  first  place,  keep  yourself  easy,  for  all 
things  are  governed  by  the  universal  nature.  Besides, 
you  will  quickly  go  the  way  of  all  flesh,  as  Augustus 
and  Hadrian  have  done  before  you.  Farther,  examine 
the  matter  to  the  bottom,  and  remember  that  your 
business  is  to  be  a  good  man.  Therefore,  whatever 
the  dignity  of  human  nature  requires  of  you,  set  about 


it  at  once,  without  "ifs"  or  ''ands" ;  and  speak  always 
according  to  your  conscience,  but  let  it  be  done  in  the 
terms  of  good  nature  and  modesty  and  sincerity. 

6.  It  is  the  work  of  Providence  to  change  the  face 
of  things,  and  remove  them  from  one  place  to  another. 
All  conditions  are  subject  to  revolution,  so  that  you 
need  not  be  afraid  of  anything  new,  for  all  things  are 
usual,  and  equally  distributed. 

7.  Every  being  is  at  ease  when  its  powers  move 
regularly  and  without  interruption.  Now  a  rational 
being  is  in  this  prosperous  condition  when  its  judgment 
is  gained  by  nothing  but  truth  and  evidence,  when  its 
designs  are  all  meant  for  the  advantage  of  society, 
when  its  desires  and  aversions  are  confined  to  objects 
within  its  power,  when  it  rests  satisfied  with  the 
distributions  of  the  universal  nature  of  which  it  is  a 
part,  just  as  much  as  a  leaf  belongs  to  the  nature  of 
the  tree  that  bears  it.  Only  with  this  difference,  that 
a  leaf  is  part  of  a  nature  without  sense  or  reason,  and 
liable  to  be  checked  in  its  operations,  whereas  a 
man  is  a  limb  as  it  were  of  an  intelligent,  righteous, 
and  irresistible  being,  that  is  all  wisdom,  and  assigns 
matter  and  form,  time,  force,  and  fortune,  to  everything 
in  one  measure  and  proportion.  And  this  you  will 
easily  perceive  if  you  do  not  compare  one  thing  with 
another  in  every  detail,  but  compare  the  whole  of  one 
thing  with  the  whole  of  another. 

8.  You  have  no  leisure  to  read  books,  what  then  ? 
You  have  leisure  to  check  your  insolence.  It  is  in 
your  power  to  be  superior  to  pleasure  and  pain,  to  be 
deaf  to  the  charms  of  ambition.      It  is  in  your  power 


not  odI}^  to  forbear  being  angry  with  people  for  their 
folly  and  ingratitude,  but  over  and  above,  to  cherish 
their  interest,  and  take  care  of  them. 

9.  Never  again  let  any  man  hear  you  censure  a 
court  life,  nor  seem  dissatisfied  with  your  own. 

10.  Repentance  is  a  reproof  of  a  man's  conscience 
for  the  neglect  of  some  advantages.  Now,  whatever  is 
morally  good  is  profitable,  and  ought  to  be  the 
concern  of  a  man  of  probity.  But  no  good  man 
would  ever  be  inwardly  troubled  for  the  omission  of 
any  pleasure,  whence  it  follows  that  pleasure  is 
neither  profitable  nor  good. 

11.  What  is  this  thing  considered  in  itself?  Of 
what  sort  of  substance,  of  what  material  and  causal 
parts  does  it  consist  ?  What  share  of  action  has  it  in 
the  world  ?  and  how  long  is  it  likely  to  stay  there  ? 

12.  When  you  find  yourself  sleepy  in  a  morning, 
remember  that  business  and  doing  service  to  the 
world  is  to  act  up  to  nature  and  live  like  a  man. 
Whereas  sleep  you  have  in  common  with  the 
beasts.  Now  those  actions  which  fall  in  with  a  man's 
nature  are  more  suitable  and  serviceable,  yes,  and 
more  pleasant  than  others. 

13.  Upon  every  new  impression  let  it  be  your 
constant  custom  to  examine  the  object  in  the  light  of 
physics,  ethics,  and  dialectics. 

14.  When  you  are  about  to  converse  with  any 
person,  make  this  short  speech  to  yourself:  What 
notions  has  this  man  about  good  and  evil  ?  Then  if 
he  has  such  opinions  concerning  pleasure  and  pain, 
and  the  causes  of  them,  reputation  or  ignominy,  life 


or  death  ;  if  the  case  stands  thus  with  him,  I  shall 
not  wonder  at  his  practice,  and  I  shall  remember 
that  it  is  next  to  impossible  he  should  do  otherwise. 

15.  Would  it  not  be  an  odd  instance  of  surprise  to 
stare  at  a  fig-tree  for  bearing  figs  ?  Why  then  should 
it  seem  strange  to  us  for  the  world  to  act  like  itself, 
and  produce  things  pursuant  to  quality  and  kind  ? 
This  is  just  as  foolish  as  it  would  be  for  a  physician 
to  wonder  at  a  fever,  or  a  master  of  a  vessel  at  a  cross 
blast  of  wind. 

16.  To  retract  or  mend  a  fault  at  the  admonition 
of  a  friend  in  no  way  hurts  your  liberty,  for  it  is  still 
your  own  activity  which  by  means  of  your  own 
impulse  and  judgment,  and  by  your  own  mind,  makes 
you  see  your  mistake. 

17.  Why  do  you  do  this,  if  it  is  in  your  power  to 
let  it  alone  ?  But  if  you  cannot  help  it,  whom  do  you 
blame  ?  The  atoms  or  the  gods  ?  Either  is  folly,  and 
therefore  we  must  murmur  against  nothing.  If  you 
can  mend  the  cause,  set  about  it.  Tf  not,  mend  the 
thing  itself.  If  you  cannot  do  even  that,  what  are 
you  the  better  for  grumbling?  Now  a  man  should 
never  do  anything  to  no  purpose. 

18.  Whatever  drops  out  of  life  is  somewhere,  for 
the  world  loses  nothing.  If  it  stays  here,  it  also 
changes  here,  and  is  dissolved  into  its  proper  parts, 
which  are  elements  of  the  universe  and  of  yourself. 
And  these  two  change  and  do  not  complain. 

19.  Everything  is  made  for  some  end.  The  sun 
even  will  say,  I   have  my  business  assigned,  and  so 


too  the  celestial  deities.  But  pray,  what  were  you 
made  for  ?  For  your  pleasure  ?  Common  sense  will 
not  bear  such  an  answer. 

20.  Nature  pre-ordains  the  end  of  everything,  no 
less  than  its  beginning  and  continuance,  as  does  he  that 
strikes  a  ball,  and  what  is  the  ball  the  better  all  this 
while  for  mounting,  or  the  worse  for  flying  lower,  and 
coming  to  the  ground  ?  What  does  a  bubble  get  in 
the  swelling  or  lose  in  the  breaking  ?  The  same  may 
be  said  of  a  candle. 

21.  Turn  your  body  the  wrong  side  outwards,  and 
see  it  as  it  is,  and  consider  what  age  and  disease  will 
make  of  you,  and  consider  that  both  the  orator  and  the 
hero,  the  praiser  and  the  praised,  will  quickly  be  out 
of  sight,  and  that  we  live  but  in  a  corner  of  this  little 
dimension,  that  men  differ  in  their  notions  of  honour 
and  esteem,  and  that  even  the  same  person  is  not  of 
the  same  opinion  long  together,  and,  moreover,  that 
the  earth  is  but  a  point. 

22.  Mind  that  which  lies  before  you,  whether  it 
be  thought,  word,  or  action.  You  are  well  enough 
served  for  choosing  rather  to  become  good  to-morrow 
than  be  good  to-day. 

23.  Am  I  about  anything  ?  I  will  do  it  with  regard 
to  the  interest  of  mankind.  Does  anything  happen 
to  me?  I  receive  it,  referring  it  to  the  gods,  and  the 
fountain  of  all  things  whence  springs  all  that  happens. 

24.  Think  a  little,  and  tell  me  what  you  meet 
with  in  the  business  of  bathing?  There  is  oil  and 
sweat,  and  dirtiness  and  water,  but  an  offensive  mix- 


tare,  take  it  altogether.      Why,  life  and  everything  in 
it  is  made  up  of  such  indifferent  stuff. 

25.  Lucilla  buried  Verus,  and  followed  him  soon 
after.  Secanda  did  the  same  office  for  Maximus,  and 
survived  but  a  little  while.  And  thus  it  fared  with 
Epitynchanus  and  Diotimus,  with  Antoninus  and 
Faustina,  with  Celer  and  the  Emperor  Hadrianus ; 
they  assisted  at  one  funeral,  and  quickly  made  an- 
other themselves.  Where  are  those  men  of  wit,  force, 
and  knowledge,  and  the  others  puffed  up  with  pride  ? 
They  made  a  great  noise  and  figure  formerly,  but 
what  is  become  of  them  now  ?  Where  are  those 
sharp-witted  philosophers,  Charax,  Eudsemon,  Deme- 
trius the  Platonist,  and  others  of  their  learning  ? 
Alas  !  they  took  but  a  turn  in  the  world,  and  are 
gone  long  since.  Some  of  them  have  sunk  at  once, 
and  left  no  memory  behind  them.  The  history  of 
others  is  overcast,  and  dwindled  into  fables,  and  a 
third  sort  have  dropped  even  out  of  fables.  Your 
business  is  therefore  to  remember,  that  after  death 
this  compound  of  yours  will  fall  to  pieces  ;  or  else 
your  soul  will  either  be  extinguished  or  removed 
into  another  station. 

26.  Satisfaction  consists  in  doing  the  things  we 
were  made  for.  And  how  is  this  to  be  compassed  ? 
By  the  practice  of  general  kindness,  by  neglecting  the 
movements  of  our  senses,  by  distinguishing  appear- 
ance from  truth,  and  by  contemplating  the  nature  of 
the  universe  and  its  works. 

27.  Every  man  has  three  relations  to  acquit  him- 
self in  :  his  body  that  encompasses  him  makes  one, 


the  Divine  cause  that  gives  to  all  men  all  things  an- 
other, and  his  neighbours  a  third. 

28.  If  pain  is  an  affliction,  it  must  affect  either  the 
body  or  the  mind  ;  if  the  body  is  hurt,  let  it  say  so ; 
as  for  the  soul,  it  is  in  her  power  to  preserve  her 
serenity  and  calm  by  supposing  the  accident  no  evil; 
for  judgment  and  impulse,  aversion  and  desire,  are 
lodged  within,  and  there  no  mischief  can  come  at 

29.  Kub  out  the  impressions  of  fancy  on  the  mind 
by  continually  saying  to  yourself.  It  is  in  my  power 
to  make  my  soul  free  from  desire  or  disturbance.  I 
am  likewise  able  to  distinguish  the  quality  of  things, 
and  make  use  of  them  accordingly.  These  are  all 
privileges  of  nature,  and  ought  to  be  remembered  as 

30.  When  you  speak  in  the  senate  or  elsewhere, 
speak  suitably  and  without  affectation,  and  let  your 
discourse  be  always  clear. 

31.  Augustus'  court  is  buried  long  since;  his 
empress  and  daughter,  his  grand-children  and  ances- 
tors, his  sister  and  Agrippa,  his  relations  and  domes- 
tics, physicians  and  sacrificers,  his  favourites,  such  as 
Arius  the  philosopher,  and  M^cenas,  they  are  all  gone. 
Gfo  on  from  single  persons  to  families,  that  of  the 
Pompeyg,  for  instance,  and  you  will  find  the  whole  line 
extinct.  "  This  man  was  the  last  of  his  house,"  is  not 
uncommon  upon  a  monume.^t.  How  solicitous  were 
the  ancestors  of  such  people  about  an  heir;  and  yet 
some  one  must  of  necessity  be  the  last.  Here,  too, 
consider  the  death  of  a  whole  race. 


S2.  Guide  your  life  towards  a  single  course  of  actiou 
and  if  every  action  goes  its  due  length,  as  far  as  may 
be,  rest  contented.  Now,  no  mortal  can  hinder  you 
from  putting  your  affairs  in  this  condition.  But  may 
not  some  obstacle  from  without  interpose  ?  No  ;  not 
so  far  as  to  prevent  your  acting  like  a  man  of  probity, 
moderation,  and  prudence.  But  perhaps  my  activity 
may  be  checked  in  some  other  way.  It  is  no  matter 
for  that.      As  long  as  you  are  easy  under  the  obstruc- 

Ition,  and  pass  on  smoothly  to  whatever  offers,  you 
have  at  once  another  opportunity  for  action,  in  accord- 
ance with  this  aforesaid  government. 

33.  As  to  the  case  of  good  fortune,  take  it  without 
pride,  and  resign  it  without  reluctance. 

34.  If  you  have  observed  a  hand  or  a  foot  cut 
off,  and  removed  from  the  body,  just  such  a  thing  is 
that  man,  as  far  as  lies  in  his  power,  who  is  discon- 
tented with  fate,  and  breaks  off  from  the  interest  of 
mankind,  or  who  by  a  selfish  act  has  cut  himself  off 
from  the  union  of  nature,  for  by  nature  he  is  a  part  of 
the  whole.  But  here  lies  the  good  luck  of  the  case. 
It  is  in  your  power  to  set  the  limb  on  again.  This 
favour  is  allowed  by  God  to  no  other  part  of  the 
creation  that  what  is  separated  and  cut  off  should 
be  joined  on  again.  Consider,  then,  the  particular 
bounty  of  God  to  man  in  this  privilege.  He  has  set 
him  above  the  necessity  of  breaking  off  from  nature 
and  Providence  at  all ;  but  supposing  he  has  broken 
away,  it  is  in  his  power  to  rejoin  the  body,  and  grow 
together  again,  and  recover  the  advantage  of  being  the 
same  member  he  was  at  first. 


35.  Whence  come  all  the  powers  and  prerogatives 
of  rational  beings  ?  From  the  soul  of  the  universe. 
Amongst  other  faculties,  they  have  this  which  I  am 
going  to  mention.  For  as  the  universal  nature  over- 
rules all  mutinous  accidents,  brings  them  under  the 
laws  of  fate,  and  makes  them  part  of  itself,  so  it  is 
the  power  of  man  to  make  something  out  of  every 
hindrance,  and  turn  it  to  his  own  advantage. 

36.  Do  not  take  your  whole  life  into  your  head  at 
a  time,  nor  burden  yourself  with  the  weight  of  the 
future,  nor  form  an  image  of  all  probable  misfortunes. 
This  method  will  but  confound  you.  On  the  contrary, 
your  way  is  upon  every  emergency  to  put  this  ques- 
tion to  yourself,  "'  What  intolerable  circumstance  is 
there  in  all  this  ? "  For  you  will  be  ashamed  to 
assign  particulars,  and  confess  yourself  conquered. 
Besides,  you  are  to  remember,  that  neither  what  is 
past  nor  what  is  to  come  need  afflict  you,  for  you  have 
only  to  deal  with  the  present.  Now,  this  is  strangely 
lessened,  if  you  take  it  singly  and  by  itself  Chide 
your  fancy,  therefore,  if  it  offers  to  shrink  for  a 
moment  and  grow  faint  under  so  slender  a  trial. 

37.  Do  Panthea  and  Pergamus  still  wait  at  the 
tomb  of  Verus,  or  Chabrias  and  Diotimus  at  that  of 
Hadrian  ?  That  would  be  absurd  indeed  !  And  what 
if  they  were  there,  would  those  princes  be  sensible  of 
the  service  ?  Granting  they  were,  what  satisfaction 
would  it  be  to  them  ?  And  suppose  they  were  pleased, 
would  these  w^aiters  be  immortal  ?  Are  they  not 
doomed  to  age  and  death  with  the  rest  of  mankind  ? 
And  when  they  are  dead,  what  would  the  royal  ghosts 


lo  for  want  of  their  attendance  ?     Alas  !  all  this  cere- 
nony  must  end  at  last  in  stench  and  dust. 

38.  If  you  are  so  quick  at  discerning,  says  one, 
iiscern  and  judge  wisely. 

39.  I  find  no  mortal  virtue^  which  contradicts  and 
3ombats  justice ;  this  cannot  be  affirmed  of  pleasure, 
ibr  here  temperance  comes  in  with  a  restraint. 

40.  It  is  opinion  which  gives  being  to  misfortune, 
io  not  fancy  yourself  hurt,  and  nothing  can  touch  j^ou. 
But  ^vhat  is  this  ''you  V  It  is  your  reason.  But  I 
am  not  all  reason.  Very  well,  but  do  not  let  reason 
grow  uneasy.  And  if  any  other  part  of  you  is  in 
trouble,  let  it  keep  its  concerns  to  itself. 

41.  To  be  checked  in  the  functions  of  sense,  and 
motion,  and  desire  is  an  evil  to  the  animal  life ;  that 
which  hinders  the  growth  or  flourishing  of  a  vegetable 
may  be  said  to  be  an  evil  there,  so  likewise  to  be 
cramped  in  the  faculties  of  the  mind  is  an  evil  to  an 
intelligent  nature.  Apply  all  this  to  yourself  Does 
pleasure  or  pain  attack  you  ?  Turn  them  over  to 
your  senses,  and  let  them  answer  for  it.  Does  any- 
thing cross  your  undertaking  ?  Why,  if  you  are 
positive  and  peremptory  about  it,  the  disappointment 
is  really  an  evil  to  your  rational  nature.  But  if  you 
consider  the  usual  course  of  things,  then  no  manner  of 
hindrance  or  harm  has  happened  to  you  ;  indeed,  no 
mortal  can  put  a  restraint  upon  the  soul ;  and  neither 
fire  nor  sword,  slander,  tongue,  nor  tyrant  can  touch 
her ;  just  as  a  sphere  when  it  has  once  come  into 
being  remains  a  sphere. 


42.  Why  sliould  I  vex  myself  that  never  willingly 
vexed  anybody  ? 

43.  Every  man  has  his  particular  inclination,  but 
my  pleasure  lies  in  a  sound  understanding,  a  temper 
that  never  falls  out  either  with  men  or  accidents, 
that  sees  and  takes  all  things  with  good  humour,  and 
puts  them  to  the  uses  they  are  fit  for. 

44.  Make  the  best  of  your  time  while  you  have  it. 
Those  who  are  so  solicitous  about  fame  never  consider 
that  future  generations  will  be  much  the  same  as  the 
present  whom  they  are  vexed  with,  and  they,  too, 
are  mortal,  what  then  can  the  noise  or  opinions  of  such 
little  mortals  ;:^ignify  to  you  ? 

45.  Toss  me  into  what  climate  or  state  you  please, 
for  all  that,  I  will  keep  my  divine  part  content,  if  it 
can  but  exist,  and  act  in  accordance  with  its  nature. 
What !  is  this  misadventure  big  enough  to  ruffle  my 
mind  and  make  it  deteriorate  ?  To  make  it  mean, 
craving,  and  servile,  and  frightened ;  what  is  there 
that  can  justify  such  disorders  ? 

46.  No  accident  can  happen  to  any  man  but  what 
is  consequent  to  his  nature.  And  the  same  thing  may 
be  affirmed  of  a  beast,  a  vine,  or  a  stone.  Now  if 
things  fare  no  otherwise  than  according  to  kind  and 
constitution,  why  should  you  complain  ?  --You  may  be 
assured  the  universal  nature  has  never  laid  upon  you 
an  intolerable  evil. 

47.  If  anything  external  vexes  you,  take  notice 
that  it  is  not  the  thing  which  disturbs  you,  but  your 
notion  about  it,  which  notion  you  may  dismiss  at 
once  if  you  please.      But  if  the  condition  of  your  mind 







displease  yon,  who  should  hinder  you  from  rectifying 
pur  opinion  ?  Farther,  if  you  are  disturbed  because 
\  y^ou  are  not  active  in  the  discharge  of  your  duty,  your 
fWay  is  rather  to  do  something  than  to  grieve  at  your 
own  omission.  But  you  are  under  some  insuperable 
difficulty  ;  then  never  vex  yourself  about  the  matter, 
for  you  have  nothing  to  answer  for.  It  may  be  you 
will  say  :  It  is  not  worth  my  while  to  live  unless  this 
business  can  be  effected.  Why  then,  even  die  ;  but 
take  your  leave  contentedly,  go  off  as  smoothly  as  if 
you  were  in  full  activity,  and  be  not  angry  with  those 
that  disappointed  you. 

48.  The  mind  is  invincible  when  she  turns  to  her- 
self, and  relies  upon  her  own  courage  ;  in  this  case 
there  is  no  forcing  her  will,  though  she  has  nothing 
but  obstinacy  for  her  defence.  What  then  must  her 
strength  be  when  she  is  fortified  with  reason,  and 
engages  upon  thought  and  deliberation  ?  A  soul 
unembarrassed  with  passion  is  a  very  citadel,  the  most 
impregnable  security  for  man  in  future ;  hither  we 
may  retire  and  defy  our  enemies.  He  that  has  not 
seen  this  advantage  must  be  ignorant,  and  he  that 
neglects  to  use  it  unhappy. 

49.  Do  not  make  more  of  things  than  your  senses 
report.  For  instance,  you  are  told  that  such  an  one 
has  spoken  ill  of  you.  Right  ;  but  that  you  are  really 
the  worse  for  it  is  no  part  of  the  news.  Again,  I  see 
my  child  lie  sick.  True  ;  but  that  he  is  in  danger  is 
more  than  I  see.  Thus  always  stop  at  the  first 
representation,  and  add  nothing  yourself  from  within, 
and  you  are  safe.      Or  rather,  reason  upon  it  like  a 


man   that  has  looked  through   the  world,   and  is  no 
stranger  to  anything  that  can  happen. 

60.  Does  your  cucumber  taste  bitter  ?  Let  it 
alone.  Are  there  brambles  in  your  way  ?  Avoid 
them  then.  Thus  far  you  are  well.  But,  then,  do 
not  ask  what  does  the  world  with  such  things  as  this, 
for  a  natural  philosopher  would  laugh  at  you.  This 
expostulation  is  just  as  wise  as  it  would  be  to  find 
fault  with  a  carpenter  for  having  saw-dust,  or  a  tailor 
shreds  in  his  shop.  Yet  they  have  places  where  to 
bestow  these.  But  universal  nature  has  no  place  for 
refuse  out  of  herself,  but  the  wondrous  part  of  her  art 
is  that  though  she  is  circumscribed,  yet  everything 
within  her  that  seems  to  grow  old  and  moulder  and 
be  good  for  nothing,  she  melts  down  into  herself 
and  recoins  in  another  figure,  and  thus  she  neither 
wants  any  foreign  substance  or  by-place  to  throw 
the  dross  in,  but  is  always  abundantly  furnished 
with  room,  and  matter,  and  art  within  herself 

51.  Be  not  heavy  in  business,  nor  disturbed  in 
conversation,  nor  rambling  in  your  thoughts.  Keep 
your  mind  from  running  adrift,  from  sudden  surprise 
and  transports,  and  do  not  overset  yourself  with  too 
much  employment.  Do  men  curse  you  ?  Do  they 
threaten  to  kill  and  quarter  you  ?  How  can  this 
prevent  you  from  keeping  your  mind  pure,  wise, 
temperate,  and  just  ?  It  is  much  as  if  a  man  that 
stands  by  a  pure  and  lovely  spring  should  fall  a-railing 
at  it,  the  water  never  ceases  bubbling  up  for  all  that ; 
and  if  you  should  throw  in  dirt  or  clay,  it  would 
quickly  disappear  and  disperse,  and  the  fountain  will 


Dot  be  polluted.  Which  way  now  are  you  to  go  to 
work,  to  keep  your  springs  always  running,  that  they 
may  never  stagnate  into  a  pool  ?  I  will  tell  you  : 
you  must  always  preserve  in  yourself  the  virtues  of 
freedom,  of  sincerity,  sobriety,  and  good  nature. 

52.  He  that  is  unacquainted  with  the  nature  of  the 
world,  must  be  at  a  loss  to  know  where  he  is.  And 
he  that  cannot  tell  the  ends  he  was  made  for,  is 
ignorant  both  of  himself  and  the  world  too.  And  he 
that  is  uninstructed  in  either  of  these  two  points,  will 
never  be  able  to  know  the  design  of  his  being. 
What  do  you  think  then  of  his  discretion,  that  is 
anxious  about  what  is  said  of  him,  and  values  either 
the  praise  or  the  censure  of  those  folks  that  know 
neither  where  they  are,  nor  who  ? 

53.  What !  Are  you  so  ambitious  of  a  man's  good 
word,  that  curses  himself  thrice  every  hour  ?  Are 
you  so  fond  of  being  in  their  favour,  that  cannot  keep 
in  their  own  1  And  how  can  they  be  said  to  please 
themselves,  who  repent  of  almost  everything  they  do  ? 

54.  Let  your  soul  work  in  harmony  with  the 
universal  intelligence,  as  your  breath  does  with  the 
air.  This  correspondence  is  very  practicable,  for 
the  intelligent  power  lies  as  open  and  pervious  to 
your  mind,  as  the  air  you  breathe  does  to  your  lungs, 
if  you  can  but  draw  it  in. 

55.  Wickedness  generally  does  no  harm  to  the 
universe,  so  too  in  particular  subjects,  it  does  no  harm 
to  any  one.  It  is  only  a  plague  to  him  in  whose 
power  it  lies  to  be  rid  of  it  whenever  he  pleases. 

h^.   My  will  is  as  much  my  own  as  my  constitu- 


tioD  ;  and  no  more  concerned  in  the  will  of  another 
man,  than  my  breath  and  body  is  in  another  man's. 
For  though  we  are  born  for  the  service  of  each  other, 
yet  our  liberty  is  independent.  Otherwise  my  neigh- 
bour's fault  might  be  my  misfortune.  But  God  has 
prevented  this  consequence,  lest  it  should  be  in 
another's  power  to  make  me  unhappy. 

57.  The  sun  is  diffused,  and  bestows  itself  every- 
where, but  this  seeming  expense  never  exhausts  it. 
The  reason  is,  because  it  is  stretched  like  a  thread, 
and  thus  its  beams  have  their  name  from  extension. 
As  for  the  properties  and  philosophy  of  a  ray,  you 
may  observe  them,  if  you  like  to  let  it  into  a  dark 
room  through  a  narrow  passage.  Here  you  will  see 
it  move  in  a  straight  line,  till  it  is  broken,  and,  as  it 
were,  divided,  by  having  its  progress  stopped  by  a 
solid  body ;  and  here  the  light  makes  a  stand,  with- 
out dropping  or  sliding  off.  Thus  you  should  let 
your  sense  shine  out  and  diffuse,  extended  but  not 
exhausted  ;  and  when  you  meet  with  opposition,  never 
strike  violently  against  it,  nor  yet  drop  your  talent  in 
despair.  But  let  your  beams  be  fixed,  and  enlighten 
where  they  find  a  capacity.  And  as  for  that  body 
that  will  not  transmit  the  light,  it  will  but  darken 
itself  by  its  resistance. 

58.  He  that  dreads  death  is  either  afraid  that  his 
senses  will  be  extinguished  or  altered.  Now,  if  you 
have  no  faculties,  you  will  have  no  feeling.  But  if  you 
have  new  perceptions,  you  will  be  another  creature, 
and  will  not  cease  to  live. 


59.  Men  are  born  to  be  serviceable  to  one  another, 
therefore  either  reform  the  world  or  bear  with  it. 

60.  Understanding  does  not  always  drive  onward 
like  an  arrow.  The  mind  sometimes  by  making  a 
halt,  and  going  round  for  advice,  moves  straight  on 
none  the  less,  and  hits  the  mark. 

71.  Look  nicely  into  the  thoughts  of  every  one, 
and  give  them  the  same  freedom  as  your  own. 



BOOK    IX. 

1.  1 

BOOK    IX. 

N JUSTICE  is  no  less  than  higli  treason 
against  heaven.  For  since  the  nature 
of  the  universe  has  made  rational  crea- 
tures for  mutual  service  and  support, 
but  never  to  do  anybody  any  harm, 
since  the  case  stands  thus  :  he  that  crosses  upon  this 
design  is  profane,  and  outrages  the  most  ancient  Deity  ; 
so,  too,  does  the  liar  outrage  the  same  Deity.  For  the 
nature  of  the  universe  is  the  cause  of  all  that  exists. 
Thus  all  things  are  one  family  united,  and,  as  it  were, 
of  kin  to  each  other.  This  nature  is  also  styled  truth, 
as  being  the  basis  of  first  principles  and  certainty. 
He,  therefore,  that  tells  a  lie  knowingly,  is  an  irre- 
ligious wretch,  for  by  deceiving  his  neighbour  he  is 
unjust  to  him.  And  he  that  is  guilty  of  an  untruth 
out  of  ignorance  is  liable  to  the  same  charge,  because 
he  dissents  from  the  nature  of  the  whole,  brings  dis- 
order into  the  world,  and  opposes  the  nature  of  the 
universe.  Yes,  and  he  023poses  himself  too,  who  is 
borne  to  what  is  at  variance  with  truth.  By  neglecting 
the  impulses  he  was  born  to,  he  has  lost  the  test  of  truth, 
and  the  distinction  of  right  and  wrong.  Further, 
he  that  reckons  prosperity  and  pleasure  among  things 


really  good,  pain  and  hardsliip  amongst  things  really 
evil,  can  be  no  pious  person  ;  for  such  a  man  will  be 
sure  to  complain  of  the  administrations  of  Providence, 
and  charge  it  with  mismatching  fortune  and  merit. 
He  will  often  see  evil  people  furnished  with  materials 
for  pleasure,  and  regaled  with  the  relish  of  it,  and  good 
men  harassed  and  depressed,  and  meeting  with  nothing 
but  misfortune.  Now,  he  that  is  afraid  of  pain 
will  be  afraid  of  something  that  will  always  be  in  the 
world  ;  but  this  is  a  failure  in  reverence  and  respect. 
On  the  other  hand,  he  that  is  violent  in  the  pursuit  of 
pleasure,  will  not  hesitate  to  turn  villain  for  the  pur- 
chase. And  is  not  this  plainly  an  ungodly  act  %  To 
set  the  matter  right,  where  the  allowance  of  God  is 
equally  clear,  as  it  is  with  regard  to  prosperity  and 
adversity  (for  had  He  not  approved  both  these  con- 
ditions. He  would  never  have  made  them  both),  I 
say,  where  the  good  liking  of  heaven  is  equally  clear, 
ours  ought  to  be  so  too,  because  we  ought  to  follow  the 
guidance  of  nature  and  the  sense  of  the  Deity.  That 
man,  therefore,  that  does  not  comply  with  Providence 
in  the  same  indifference  with  respect  to  pleasure  and 
pain,  life  and  death,  honour  and  infamy,  he  that  does 
not  this  without  struggling  of  passions,  without  un- 
manageable preference  or  aversion,  is  no  friend  to  the 
Divine  government. 

By  saying  that  universal  nature  or  God  stands 
equally  affected  to  these  different  dispensations,  the 
meaning  is  that  they  are  both  comprehended  in  the 
general  scheme,  and  equally  consequent  to  the  first 
establishment.       They    were    decreed    by   Providence 


from  the  begiDning,  and  struck  out  with  the  lines  of 
the  creation.  Then  it  was  that  the  plan  of  providence 
was  drawn,  and  the  fate  of  futurity  determined.  Then 
nature  was  made  prolific,  and  enabled  to  bring  forth 
in  due  time.  Then  the  whole  stock  of  beings,  the 
revolutions  of  fortune,  and  the  successions  of  time,  were 
all  stated  and  set  going. 

2.  He  is  better  bred  and  more  a  gentleman,  that 
takes  leave  of  the  world  without  a  blot  on  his 
scutcheon,  and  has  nothing  of  falsehood  and  dissimu- 
lation, of  luxury  or  pride,  to  tarnish  his  character. 
But  when  a  man  is  once  dipt  in  these  vices,  the  next 
best  thing  is  for  him  to  quit  life.  Have  you  deter- 
mined to  abide  with  vice,  and  has  not  even  experience 
yet  taught  you  to  fly  from  the  plague  ?  For  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  understanding  is  a  far  worse  plague  than  the 
corruption  and  change  of  the  air  that  surrounds  us ; 
for  the  brute  only  suffers  in  the  first  case,  but  the  man 
in  the  other. 

3.  Do  not  despise  death,  but  accept  it  willingly ; 
look  upon  it  as  part  of  the  product  of  nature,  and  one 
of  those  things  which  providence  has  been  pleased  to 
order.  For  such  as  are  youth  and  age,  growth  and 
manhood,  down  and  gray  hairs,  pregnancy  and 
birth,  and  all  natural  actions,  and  incidents  of  life, 
so  also  is  dying.  A  wise  man,  therefore,  must 
neither  run  giddily  nor  impatiently  and  contemptu- 
ously into  his  grave.  He  must  look  upon  death  as 
nature's  business,  and  wait  her  leisure  as  he  does  for 
the  progress  and  maturity  of  other  things ;  for  as  you 
wait  for  a  child  to  come  into  the   world   when   it  is 


ready,  so  you  should  stay  in  the  other  case  till  things 
are  ripe,  and  your  soul  drops  out  of  the  husk  of  her 
own  accord.  But  if  you  stand  in  need  of  a  vulgar 
remedy  to  soothe  the  mind,  consider,  then,  what  sort 
of  world  and  what  sort  of  customs  you  will  be  rid  of ! 
It  is  true  you  are  not  to  fall  foul  upon  mankind,  but  to 
treat  them  with  kindness  and  gentleness.  But  still 
you  may  remember  that  you  will  not  be  leaving  men 
just  of  your  own  mind  and  fanpy.  Such  a  unanimity 
amongst  mortals  might  reasonably  recommend  life, 
and  make  us  loth  to  part  with  it.  But  you  perceive 
that  vast  disturbances  are  bred  by  different  opinions  ; 
insomuch  that  now  we  ought  rather  to  petition  death 
to  make  haste,  for  fear  we  too  should  forget  our  true 

4.  He  that  commits  a  fault  abroad  is  a  trespasser 
at  home ;  and  he  that  injures  his  neighbour,  hurts 
himself,  for  to  make  himself  an  evil  man  is  a  great 

5.  Omissions  no  less  than  commissions  are  often- 
times part  of  injustice. 

6.  If  your  judgment  pronounces  rightly,  if  your 
actions  are  friendly  and  well  meant,  if  your  mind  is 
resigned  to  all  that  proceeds  from  the  external  cause 
at  this  moment ;  if  you  are  in  possession  of  these 
blessings,  you  are  happy  enough. 

7.  Do  not  be  imposed  on  by  appearances  ;  check 
your  impulses,  and  moderate  your  desire,  and  keep 
your  reason  always  in  her  own  power. 

8.  The  souls  of  brutes  are  all  of  one  kind,  and  so 
are  those  of  rational  beings,  though  of  a  rational  kind 


And  thus  all  living  creatures  that  have  occasion  for 
air,  and  earth,  and  light,  are  furnished  with  the  same 
kind,  all  that  have  the  faculty  of  vision  and  life. 

9.   Things    of  the   same    common    quality   have    a 
tendency   to  their  kind.      Earthy   bodies   fall   to    the 
ground.      One  drop   of  moisture   runs   after   another  ; 
and  thus  air,   where  it  is   predominant,   presses   after 
air,  and  nothing  but  force  and  violence  can  keep  these 
things  asunder.      Fire,  likewise,   mounts   upwards    on 
account   of  its  own  element,  fire,   but  it  has  such  a 
disposition    to   propagate   its   species   and  join    every 
other  fire  here  below,  that  it  catches  easily  upon  all 
fuel    a    little    more    dry    than   ordinary,    because    in 
such  the  qualities  opposite  to  ignition   are  weak  and 
disabled.      Thus  all  beings  which  partake  of  the  same 
common  intelligent  nature  have  a  natural  instinct  for 
correspondence  with  their  own  kind  ;  only  with  this 
difference,   that    the   higher   anything  stands    in    the 
scale  of  being,  the  more  it  is  inclined  to  communi- 
cation with  its  own  order.      To  illustrate  the  argument, 
we  find  the  force  of  nature  very  active  amongst  brute 
animals,    as    appears    by   their    running   together   in 
herds  and  swarms  according  to  kind  ;   by  their  pro- 
viding   for   their    young   ones,    and    by  that   resem- 
blance   of   love    which    is    carried    on  among   them. 
These  animals  have  a  soul  in  them,  by  consequence 
their   principle    of  union   is   more   vigorous    than    in 
plants,    stones,   and    wood.      To   go  on  to   reasonable 
creatures,    we    may   observe   them    united    by  public 
counsels  and  commonwealths,  by  particular  friendships 
and  families,  and  in  times   of  war  they  have  truces 


and  treaties.  Farther,  to  instance  a  higher  order, 
the  stars,  though  not  neighbours  in  situation,  move  by 
concert.  Thus  where  things  are  more  noble  and 
nature  rises,  sympathy  rises  too,  and  operates  even 
among  distant  objects.  But  now  see  what  happens. 
The  rational  creatures  are  the  only  beings  which  have 
now  forgotten  this  mutual  desire  and  inclination,  and 
here  alone  this  flowing  together  is  not  seen.  But 
though  they  run  from  their  kind,  they  are  brought 
back  again  in  some  measure.  For  great  is  the  power 
of  nature,  and  you  shall  sooner  see  a  piece  of  earth  re- 
fuse to  lie  by  its  own  element,  than  find  any  man  so 
perfectly  unsociable  as  not  to  correspond  with  some- 
body or  other. 

10.  God  and  men  and  the  world  all  of  them  bear 
fruit  in  their  proper  seasons.  It  is  true,  use  has  re- 
strained this  signification  to  vines  and  trees ;  but  this 
custom  apart,  reason  may  properly  enough  be  said  to 
bear  fruit  for  itself  and  for  the  common  good,  espe- 
cially if  we  consider  that  the  fruit  of  the  understanding 
keeps  close  to  its  kind  and  resembles  the  stock. 

11.  Give  an  injurious  person  good  advice,  and  re- 
form him  if  you  can.  If  not,  remember  that  your  good 
temper  was  given  you  for  this  trial ;  that  the  gods  too 
are  so  patient  as  even  to  pass  by  the  perverseness  of 
such  persons,  and  sometimes  to  assist  them  over  and 
above  in  their  health,  fame,  and  fortune  ;  so  benign 
are  they.  Just  thus  may  you  do  if  you  please ;  if 
not,  where  is  the  impediment  ? 

12.  Do  not  drudge  like  a  galley  slave,  nor  do  busi- 
ness in  such  a  laborious  manner  as  if  you  had  a  mind 


to   be  pitied   or  wondered    at ;   but  desire  one   thing 
only,  to  move  or  halt  as  social  reason  shall  direct  you. 

13.  To-day  I  rushed  clear  out  of  all  misfortune,  or 
rather  I  threw  misfortune  from  me  ;  for  to  speak  truth, 
it  was  not  outside,  nor  ever  any  farther  off  than  my 
own  fancy. 

14.  All  things  are  the  same  over  again,  and  nothing 
but  what  has  been  known  to  experience.  They  are 
momentary  in  their  lasting,  and  coarse  in  their 
matter,  and  all  things  are  now  as  they  were  in  the 
times  of  those  we  have  buried. 

15.  Things  stand  without  doors  and  keep  their  dis- 
tance, and  neither  know  nor  report  any  things  about 
themselves.  What  is  it,  then,  that  pronounces  upon 
them  ?      Nothing  but  your  own  ruling  principle. 

16.  As  the  good  and  evil  of  a  rational,  social 
animal  consist  in  action  and  not  in  feeling,  so  it  is  not 
what  they  feel  but  what  they  do,  which  makes  man- 
kind either  happy  or  miserable. 

IT.  It  is  all  one  to  a  stone  whether  it  is  thrown 
upwards  or  downwards  ;  it  is  no  harm  for  it  to  descend, 
or  good  for  it  to  mount. 

18.  Examine  into  men's  understandings,  and  you 
will  see  what  sort  of  judges  even  of  themselves  are 
those  whom  you  fear. 

19.  All  things  are  in  a  perpetual  flux  and  a  sort 
of  consumption  ;  you  yourself  are  continually  chang- 
ing, and  in  a  manner  destroyed,  and  the  whole  world 
keeps  you  company. 

20.  Let  everybody's  fault  lie  at  his  own  door. 

21.  The  intermission  of  action,  and  a  stop  in  appe- 


tite  and  opinion,  and  even  a  kind  of  death  upon  the 
faculties,  is  no  harm.  Go  on  now  to  the  different 
periods  of  life,  and  here  you  will  find  infancy,  youth, 
manhood,  and  old  age,  and  one,  as  it  were,  the  death 
of  another.  And  where  lies  the  terror  of  all  this  ? 
Proceed  to  your  life  in  your  grandfather's  time,  and  to 
that  in  your  father's  and  mother's,  and  run  over  as 
much  ground  in  differences,  changes,  and  decay  as  you 
please,  and  ask  yourself  what  grievance  there  is  in 
this,  and  you  may  conclude  that  ending  and  cessation 
and  alteration  of  your  whole  life  will  be  no  worse. 

22.  Hasten  to  examine  your  own  ruling  principle, 
and  that  of  the  universe,  and  that  of  3^our  neighbour. 
Your  own,  that  you  may  keep  it  honest  ;  that  of  the 
universe,  that  you  may  know  what  you  are  part  of;  your 
neighbour's,  that  you  may  discover  whether  he  acts 
through  ignorance  or  with  knowledge ;  and  here  you 
should  likewise  remember  that  you  are  of  kin  to 

23.  As  you  are  a  member  of  society  yourself,  so 
every  action  of  yours  should  tend  to  the  benefit  and 
improvement  of  it.  So  that  when  you  do  anything 
which  has  neither  immediate  nor  remote  reference  to 
general  advantage,  you  make  a  breach  in  your  life, 
destroy  its  unity,  and  are  as  really  guilty  of  seditious 
behaviour  as  a  malcontent  in  an  assembly,  as  far  as 
in  him  lies,  disturbs  the  general  harmony. 

24.  Children's  anger,  mere  baubles,  wretched  souls, 
bearing  up  dead  bodies,  so  that  the  picture  of  the 
underworld  makes  a  more  vivid  impression. 

25.  Penetrate   the   quality  of  forms,  and    take   a 


view  of  them,  abstracted  from  their  matter ;  and 
when  you  have  done  this,  compute  the  common 
period  of  their  duration. 

26.  You  have  been  a  great  sufferer  for  not  being 
contented  with  your  guiding  principle,  when  it  does 
what  it  was  made  for.      But  enough  ! 

27.  When  people  treat  you  ill,  blame  your  conduct, 
or  report  anything  to  your  disadvantage,  enter  into 
the  very  soul  of  them  ;  examine  their  understandings, 
and  see  of  what  nature  they  are.  You  will  be  fully 
convinced  that  the  opinion  of  such  mortals  is  not 
worth  one  troublesome  thought.  However,  you  must 
be  kind  to  them,  for  nature  has  made  them  your 
relations.  Besides,  the  gods  give  them  all  sort  of 
countenance,  warn  them  by  dreams  and  prophecy, 
and  help  them  to  those  things  they  have  a  mind 

28.  The  periodic  movements  of  the  universe  are 
the  same  up  and  down  from  age  to  age.  This  un- 
certain world  is  always  rolling,  and  turning  things 
topsy-turvy.  Now  the  soul  of  the  universe  either 
pursues  its  course  towards  each  particular,  in  which 
case  accept  what  it  brings  with  it ;  or  else  it  only 
moved  to  create  at  first,  and  all  things  followed  one 
another  by  necessary  consequence.  But  if  neither  of 
these  hypotheses  will  satisfy,  you  must  set  Epicurus's 
atoms  at  the  helm.  In  a  word,  if  God  governs,  all 
is  well ;  but  if  things  are  left  to  themselves,  and  set 
adrift,  do  not  you  float  at  random  with  them.  We 
shall  quickly  be  all  underground  ;  and  ere  long  the 
earth    itself   must    be   changed   into   something   else, 


and  that  something  into  another  form,  and  so  on  to 
infinity.  Now  he  that  considers  these  everlasting 
alterations,  this  constant  tossing  and  tumbling,  and 
how  fast  revolutions  succeed  each  other,  he  will  have 
but  a  mean  opinion  of  what  the  world  can  afford. 

29.  The  universal  cause  runs  rapid  like  a  torrent, 
and  sweeps  all  things  along.  What  wretched  states- 
men are  those  counterfeits  in  virtue  and  philosophy  ! 
Mere  empty  froth  !  Hark  you,  friend  !  let  honesty 
be  served  first.  Do  what  nature  requires  of  you. 
Fall  on,  then,  as  occasion  offers,  and  never  look  about 
for  commendation.  However,  I  w^ould  not  have  you 
expect  Plato's  Republic.  As  the  world  goes,  a 
moderate  reformation  is  a  great  point,  and  therefore 
rest  contented;  for  who  can  change  men's  opinions  ! 
And  yet  unless  you  can  change  their  opinions,  their 
subjection  will  be  all  force  and  dissembling.  Come 
now  !  tell  me  of  Alexander,  Philip,  and  Demetrius  of 
Phalerum.  Men  shall  see  whether  they  had  a  right 
notion  of  the  laws  of  nature,  and  whether  they 
educated  themselves.  If  they  acted  like  tragedy 
heroes,  no  one  has  condemned  me  to  imitate  them. 
Philosophy  is  a  modest  and  simple  profession,  do  not 
entice  me  to  insolence  and  pride. 

30.  Fly  your  fancy  into  the  clouds,  and  from  this 
imaginary  height  take  a  view  of  mortals  here  below. 
What  countless  herds  of  men  and  countless  solemnities ! 
What  infinite  variety  of  voyages  in  storm  and  calm  ! 
What  differences  in  the  things  that  become,  exist  with 
us,  and  perish  !  Go  on  with  the  speculation,  stretch 
your  thoughts  over  different  aspects  of  the  past  and 


the  future,  and  the  present  among  barbarous  nations ; 
how  many  are  there  that  never  heard  your  name, 
how  many  that  will  quickly  forget  you,  and  how 
many  that  admire  you  now  will  censure  you  after- 
wards ?  In  short,  memory  and  fame,  and  all  those 
things  which  are  commonly  so  much  valued,  are  of  no 
account  at  all. 

31.  Keep  a  calm  spirit  towards  things  that  proceed 
from  an  external  cause,  and  a  just  spirit  towards  those 
that  proceed  from  a  cause  within  you  ;  that  is,  let 
your  impulse  and  action  aim  at  the  interest  of  man- 
kind, for  then  you  know  your  faculties  are  in  the  right 
posture  that  nature  has  set  them. 

32.  The  greater  part  of  your  trouble  lies  in  your 
fancy,  and  therefore  you  may  free  yourself  from  it 
when  you  please.  I  will  tell  you  which  way  you  may 
move  much  more  freely,  and  give  yourself  elbow-room. 
Take  the  whole  world  into  your  contemplation,  and 
consider  its  eternal  duration,  and  the  swift  change  of 
every  single  thing  in  it.  Consider  how  near  the  end 
of  all  things  lies  to  their  beginning  !  But  then  the 
ages  before  our  birth  and  after  our  death  are  both 
infinite  and  immeasurable. 

33.  Whatever  you  see  now  will  quickly  decay  and 
disappear,  and  those  that  gaze  upon  the  ruins  of  time 
will  be  buried  under  them.  And  then  the  lonofest 
and  the  shortest  liver  will  be  both  in  the  same 

34.  If  you  would  look  within  people,  and  discover 
the  objects  they  aim  at,  and  their  motives  for  liking 
and  respect,  you  must  strip  them  to  the  soul  if  you 


can.  When  they  fancy  that  by  commending  or  censur- 
ing they  do  you  a  good  or  an  ill  turn,  what  a  strange 
conceit  it  is  ! 

35.  Loss  is  nothing  else  than  change.  Things  are 
changed  this  way,  it  is  true,  but  they  do  not  perish. 
Providence,  by  which  all  things  are  well  contrived, 
delights  in  these  alterations.  It  has  always  been  so 
in  the  world,  and  always  will  be.  What  then?  Will 
you  say  that  all  things  were  made  ill  by  so  many  gods, 
and  must  they  always  remain  ill  and  lack  order  ? 
And  is  nature  indeed  condemned  to  an  everlasting 
misfortune  ? 

36.  The  materials  of  bodies,  if  you  examine  them, 
are  strangely  coarse ;  those  that  are  animated  have 
little  in  them  but  water,  and  dust,  and  bones,  and 
something  that  is  offensive.  And  again,  marble  is  no 
more  than  a  callous  excrescence  of  the  earth,  nor  gold 
and  silver  any  better  than  its  dregs  and  sediment. 
Fine  cloths  are  nothing  but  hair  twisted  together. 
Purple  is  but  the  blood  of  a  little  fish.  And  thus  I 
might  proceed  farther.  And  as  for  spirits,  they  are 
somewhat  of  kin  to  the  rest,  and  are  chased  from  one 
figure  to  another. 

37.  Come  !  you  have  had  enough  of  life,  and 
grumbling,  and  apishness ;  what  makes  you  disturbed  ? 
What  can  you  be  surprised  at  %  What  has  happened 
to  you  worse  than  you  had  reason  to  expect  ?  Does 
cause  or  matter  make  you  uneasy  ?  Look  into 
them,  and  you  may  probably  be  relieved.  Now  for 
your  comfort,  besides  these  two  natures,  there  is 
no    other.       It   is    high    time    therefore    to    become 


simple  and  behave  better  towards  the  gods.  Three 
years'  time  to  peruse  these  things  is  as  good  as  a 

38.  If  such  a  man  has  done  amiss,  the  mischief 
is  to  himself;  and  it  may  be,  if  you  inquire,  he  has 
not  done  it. 

89.  Either  all  things  proceed  from  one  intelligent 
source,  who  makes  the  world  but  one  whole  ;  and  if  so, 
why  should  a  part  or  single  member  complain  of  that 
which  is  designed  for  the  benefit  of  the  whole  ?  Or 
else  we  are  under  the  misrule  of  atoms,  and  confu- 
sion, and  dispersion.  Why  then  do  you  trouble 
yourself  Say  to  your  ruling  faculty,  "  You  have 
passed  through  death  and  corruption,  and  forms  of 
animals  ;  and  even  now  you  are  playing  a  part,  herd- 
ing and  feeding  with  the  rest." 

40.  Either  the  gods  have  power  to  assist  us,  or  they 
have  not.  If  they  have  not,  what  does  praying  to  them 
help  you  ?  If  tliey  have,  why  do  you  not  rather  pray 
that  they  would  remove  your  fears  and  moderate  your 
desires,  and  rather  keep  you  from  grieving  for  any  of 
these  things,  than  keep  away  one  thing  and  grant  an- 
other ?  For  if  the  gods  can  help  us,  no  doubt  they 
can  help  us  to  be  wiser.  But  it  may  be  you  will  say, 
they  have  put  this  in  my  power.  Why,  then,  do  you 
not  make  use  of  your  talent,  and  act  like  a  man  of 
spirit,  and  not  run  cringing  and  creeping  after  that 
which  is  out  of  your  reach  ?  But  then  who  told  you 
that  the  gods  do  not  assist  us  in  things  w^hich  we 
might  possibly  compass  by  ourselves  ?      Begin,  then, 

to  pray  for  such  things,  and  you  will  see.     For  instance, 


156  MEDllATIONS. 

this  man  prays  that  he  may  gain  such  a  woman,  but 
do  you  rather  pray  that  you  may  have  no  such  inclina- 
tion. Another  invokes  the  gods  to  set  him  free  from 
some  trouble  ;  but  let  it  be  your  petition  that  your 
mind  may  never  put  you  upon  such  a  wish.  A  third 
is  very  devout  to  prevent  the  loss  of  his  son  ;  but  I 
would  have  you  pray  rather  against  the  fear  of  losing 
him.  Let  this  be  the  rule  for  your  devotions,  and  see 
if  the  event  does  not  answer. 

41.  "  When  I  was  sick/'  sa3^s  Epicurus,  "  I  did  not 
discourse  to  my  visitors  about  my  diseases,  or  the 
torment  I  was  troubled  with.  No,  my  system  of 
natural  philosophy  was  part  of  my  subject  ;  and  my 
main  concern  was,  that  my  mind,  although  it  partakes 
in  these  disturbances  of  the  body,  should  remain  calm, 
and  maintain  its  own  good.  I  gave  no  handle  to  the 
doctors  to  brag  of  their  profession  and  what  they  did 
for  me,  but  held  on  with  fortitude  and  indifference." 
And  when  you  are  sick,  or  under  any  other  disadvan- 
tage, cannot  you  behave  yourself  as  he  did  ?  It  is 
practicable  to  all  persuasions  in  philosophy  to  stand 
their  ground  against  all  accidents,  and  not  to  join  in 
all  the  foolish  talk  of  the  ignorant,  who  are  unac- 
quainted with  nature.  We  must  always  be  prepared, 
mind  the  thing  at  present  before  us,  and  the  tools,  too, 
with  which  we  are  to  work. 

42.  When  you  are  shocked  by  any  man's  impu- 
dence, put  this  question  to  yourself :  ^'  Is  it  possible 
for  such  impudent  people  not  to  be  in  the  world  ? " 
No,  indeed.  Why,  then,  do  you  demand  an  impossi- 
bility 1     For  this   ill-behaved   fellow  is  one  of  those 


necessary  rascals  that  the  world  cannot  dispense 
with.  This  reflection  will  furnish  you  with  patience 
for  a  knave,  a  faithless  person,  or  any  other  evil  body. 
For  when  you  consider  that  there  is  no  living  without 
such  men,  you  will  treat  them  better  individually ; 
and  to  fortify  you  further,  consider  what  an  antidote 
nature  has  given  you  agaiust  this  disease.  For  sup- 
posing yoa  have  to  do  with  a  troublesome  blockhead, 
you  have  meekness  and  temper  given  you  for  your 
guard,  and  so  with  the  rest.  It  is  likewise  in  your 
power  to  inform  the  man  better,  and  set  him  right; 
for  everyone  that  does  an  ill  action  is  really  out  of  his 
way,  and  misses  his  mark,  though  he  may  not 
know  it.  Besides,  what  harm  have  you  received  ? 
If  you  examine  the  case,  you  will  find  none  of 
these  provoking  mortals  have  done  your  mind  any 
damage.  Now  that  is  the  place  in  which  what  is 
evil  and  harmful  to  you  originates.  Pray,  where  is  the 
wonder  if  an  ignorant  fellow  acts  ignorantly  ?  If  you 
expected  other  things  from  him,  you  are  much  to 
blame.  Your  reason  might  make  you  conclude  that 
he  would  misbehave  in  this  way,  and  yet,  when  that 
which  was  most  likely  has  happened,  you  seem  sur- 
prised at  it.  But  especially  if  you  accuse  any  man  of 
ingratitude  and  infidelity,  the  fault  is  your  own,  if 
you  believed  that  a  man  of  this  disposition  would  keep 
faith,  or  else  in  conferring  a  favour  you  did  not  give 
absolutely,  for  otherwise  you  would  have  been  satisfied 
with  a  generous  action,  and  made  virtue  her  own 
reward.  You  have  obliged  a  man,  it  is  very  well. 
What  would  you  have  more  ?    You  have  acted  accord- 


ing  to  your  own  nature,  and  must  you  still  have  a 
reward  over  and  above  ?  This  is  just  as  if  an  eye  or 
a  foot  should  demand  a  salary  for  their  service,  and 
not  see  or  move  without  something  for  their  pains. 
For  as  these  organs  are  contrived  for  particular 
functions,  in  performing  which  they  pursue  their 
nature  and  attain  their  perfection,  so  man  is  made  to 
be  kind  and  oblige.  And,  therefore,  when  he  does  a 
good  office,  and  proves  serviceable  to  the  world,  he 
has  fulfilled  the  end  of  his  being,  and  attains  his  own 


BOOK     X. 

^'#^*^^  ##^*^^*^^^##^#^^#:J^^:^^}^ 

BOOK    X. 

MY  soul,  are  you  ever  to  be  rightlj'^ 
good,  simple,  and  uniform,  unmasked, 
and  made  more  visible  to  yourself 
than  the  body  that  hangs  about  you  ? 
Are  you  ever  likely  to  relish  good 
nature  and  general  kindness  as  you  ought  ?  Will  you 
ever  be  fully  satisfied,  get  above  want  and  wishing, 
and  never  desire  to  seek  your  pleasure  in  anything 
foreign,  either  living  or  inanimate  ?  Not  desiring,  I 
say,  either  time  for  longer  enjoyment  nor  place  for 
elbow-room,  nor  climate  for  good  air,  nor  the  music  of 
good  company  ?  Can  you  be  contented  with  your 
present  condition,  and  be  pleased  with  all  that  is 
about  you,  and  be  persuaded  that  you  are  fully  fur- 
nished, that  all  things  are  well  with  you  ;  for  the  gods 
are  at  the  head  of  the  administration,  and  they  will 
approve  of  nothing  but  what  is  for  the  best,  and  tends 
to  the  security  and  advantage  of  that  good,  righteous, 
beautiful,  and  perfect  being  which  generates  and  sup- 
ports and  surrounds  all  things,  and  embraces  those 
things  which  decay,  that  other  resembling  beings  may 
be  made  out  of  them  ?  In  a  word,  are  you  ever  Ukely 
to  be  so  happily  qualified  as  to  converse  with  the  gods 


and  men  in  such  a  manner  as  neither  to  complain  of 
them  nor  be  condemned  by  tliem  ? 

2.  Examine  what  your  nature  requires,  so  far  -as 
you  have  no  other  law  to  govern  you.  And  when 
you  hav6  looked  into  her  inclinations  never  balk  them, 
unless  your  animal  nature  is  likely  to  be  worse  for  it. 
Then  you  ai^e  to  examine  what  your  animal  nature 
demands  ;  and  here  you  may  indulge  your  appetite  as 
far  as  you  please,  provided  your  rational  nature  does  not 
suffer  by  the  liberty.  Now,  your  rational  nature 
admits  of  nothing  but  what  is  serviceable  to  the  rest 
of  mankind.  Keep  to  these  rules,  and  you  will  regard 
nothing  else. 

3.  Whatever  happens,  either  you  have  strength  to 
bear  it,  or  you  have  not.  If  you  have,  exert  your 
nature,  and  never  murmur  at  the  matter.  But  if  the 
weight  is  too  heavy  for  you,  do  not  complain  ;  it  will 
crush  you,  and  then  destroy  itself.  And  here  you  are 
to  remember  that  to  think  a  thing  tolerable  and 
endurable  is  the  way  to  make  it  so  if  you  do  but 
press  it  strongly  on  the  grounds  of  interest  or 

4.  Is  anyone  mistaken?  Undeceive  him  civilly, 
and  show  him  his  oversight.  But  if  you  cannot  con- 
vince him,  blame  yourself,  or  not  even  yourself. 

6.  Whatever  happens  to  you  was  pre-ordained 
your  lot  from  the  first ;  and  that  chain  of  causes  which 
constitutes  fate,  tied  your  person  and  the  event  to- 
gether from  all  eternity. 

6.  Whether  atoms  or  nature  rule  the  world  I  lay 
it  down   in  the  first  place,   that  I  am  part  of  that 


wliole  which  is  all  under  nature's  government. 
Secondly,  I  am  in  some  measure  related  to  those 
beings  which  are  of  my  own  order  and  species.  These 
points  being  agreed,  I  shall  apply  them.  Insomuch 
then  as  I  am  a  part  of  the  universe,  I  shall  never  be 
displeased  with  the  general  appointment ;  for  that  can 
never  be  prejudicial  to  the  part  which  is  service- 
able to  the  whole,  since  the  universe  contains  no- 
thing but  what  is  serviceable  to  it.  For  the  nature 
of  no  being  is  an  enemy  to  itself.  But  the  world  has 
this  advantage  above  other  particular  beings,  that 
there  is  no  foreign  power  to  force  it  to  produce  anything 
hurtful  to  itself.  Since,  therefore,  I  am  a  member  of 
so  magnificent  a  body,  I  shall  freely  acquiesce  in 
whatever  happens  to  me.  Farther,  inasmuch  as  I 
have  a  particular  relation  to  my  own  species,  I  will 
never  do  anything  against  the  common  interest.  On 
the  other  hand,  I  shall  make  it  my  business  to  oblige 
mankind,  direct  my  whole  life  for  the  advantage  of 
the  public,  and  avoid  the  contrary.  And  by  holding 
to  this  conduct,  I  must  be  happy,  as  that  citizen 
must  needs  be  who  is  always  working  for  the  benefit 
of  his  fellow-citizens,  and  perfectly  satisfied  with  that 
interest  and  station  the  government  assigns  him. 

7.  All  the  parts  of  the  whole  that  lie  within  the 
compass  of  the  universe  must  of  necessity  corrupt  and 
decay ;  by  corruption  I  mean  only  alteration.  Now 
if  this  be  an  evil  and  a  necessary  one,  by  consequence 
the  whole  of  nature  must  be  in  a  bad  condition,  by 
having  the  parts  so  slenderly  put  together,  and  so  very 
liable   to  destruction.     And  if  the  case  stands  thus. 


nature  must  either  design  unkindness  to  the  paits  of 
her  own  body,  by  making  them  subject  to  unavoidable 
evil  in  doing  or   receiving,  or  else  have  these  things 
come  about  without  her  knowledge.      But  both  these 
suppositions  are  highly  improbable.      Now  if  any  man 
has  a  mind  to  drop  the  term  Nature,  and  affirm  that 
these  things  are  naturally  produced,  he  that  affirms  this 
does  but  expose  himself,  by  granting  in  the  first  place 
that  the  parts  of  the  universe  are  made  for  alteration, 
and    then    wondering    and    complaining,    as    if   such 
accidents  were  unnatural  and  extraordinary,  especially 
since  things  do  but  return  whence  they  came,  and  are 
dissolved  into  their  first  principles.      For  either  the 
elements  are  scattered  at  large,  or  else  that  which  is  solid 
turns  to  earth,  and  the  particles  of  air  join  their  own 
element ;  and  thus  they  are  received  into  the  rational 
substance  of  the  universe,  which  will  either  be  destroyed 
by  fire  after  a  certain  period,  or  else  be  renewed  by 
perpetual  vicissitudes.      Now  I  would   not   have  you 
think  that  those  particles  of  earth  or  air  which  you 
have   now  in    your   constitution   are   the   same   with 
those   you   brought   into    the   world   with  you.     The 
matter  which  now  belongs  to  you  is  as  it  were  but  of 
yesterday's  growth  or  of  the  day  before,  and  you  have 
taken   it  all  in  by  food,  or  the  air  you  breathe,  and 
therefore  the  alterations  in  your  body  do  not  rob  you 
of  the  flesh  and  blood  you  had  from  your  mother,  but 
only  of  some  later  additions.      But  suppose  the  same 
body  you  were  born  with  is  so  closely  connected  with 
that  other,  this  is  no  objection  to  the  former  state- 


8.  When  you  have  given  yourself  the  titles  of  a 
man  of  goodness  and  modesty,  of  truth  and  prudence, 
of  resignation  and  magnanimity,  take  care  that  your 
practice  answers  to  your  character,  and  if  any  of  these 
glorious  names  are  lost  in  your  mismanagement, 
recover  them  as  soon  as  you  can :  remembering 
withal,  that  prudence  implies  consideration,  care,  and 
discriminating  enquiry ;  that  to  be  resigned  signifies  a 
cheerful  compliance  with  the  allotments  of  universal 
nature ;  that  magnanimity  imports  a  superiority  of 
the  reasoning  part  to  the  pleasure  and  pain  of  the 
body  to  glory  and  death,  and  all  those  things  which 
people  are  either  fond  or  afraid  of.  Now  if  you  can 
deserve  the  honour  of  these  names,  do  not  desire 
them  from  other  folks  ;  you  will  be  quite  another  man, 
and  will  enter  into  a  new  life,  and  indeed  it  is  high 
time  to  begin  ;  for  to  desire  to  go  on  at  this  rate,  to 
be  polluted  with  appetite,  and  harassed  with  passion 
any  longer,  is  a  senseless  and  a  scandalous  wish.  It 
resembles  the  meanness  of  those  poor  wretches  in  the 
amphitheatre,  who  when  they  are  half  devoured,  and 
have  nothing  but  wounds  left  them,  beg  notwithstand- 
ing to  be  respited  till  the  morrow ;  though  they  know 
they  will  only  be  thrown  again  to  the  same  claws 
and  teeth  that  tore  them  before.  Work  into  the 
soul  of  you  these  few  names  of  credit,  and  if  you 
find  you  can  abide  by  them,  stand  your  ground,  and 
think  yourself  transported  to  the  fortunate  islands. 
But  if  you  perceive  that  you  are  overmatched,  and 
begin  to  give  way,  retire  cheerfully  into  some  quiet 
nook,  where  you  may  manage  better.       And  if  this 


will  not  do,  you  may  give  life  the  slip,  but  do  this 
without  anger.  Walk  simply,  gravely,  and  freely 
into  the  other  world,  and  thus  the  last  action  of  your 
life  will  be  the  only  one  worth  the  owning.  And  to 
remember  those  good  qualities  above  mentioned  the 
more  effectually,  you  should  remember  the  gods,  and 
that  they  had  much  rather  that  all  rational  natures 
should  resemble  than  flatter  them,  that  trees  are 
distinguished  by  their  fruit,  dogs  and  bees  by  the 
qualities  proper  to  their  kind,  and  men  too  by  the 
appellation  of  mankind. 

9.  Plays,  warfare,  terror,  torpor,  servility,  will  daily 
wear  away  these  holy  principles  of  yours,  which  in 
your  study  of  nature  you  hastily  conceive  and  let  go 
again.  Upon  all  occasions  you  should  look  and  act 
in  such  a  manner  as  to  omit  neither  the  perfect 
performance  of  business  nor  the  activity  of  thinking, 
to  be  modest  in  the  consciousness  of  your  improve- 
ment, but  not  so  far  as  to  undervalue  your  knowledge, 
and  keep  it  out  of  sight.  When  will  you  relish 
simplicity  ?  when  gravity  ?  When  will  you  be  able 
to  understand  everything,  to  pronounce  upon  its 
nature  and  its  place  in  the  universe ;  to  calculate 
its  continuance,  and  the  ingredients  it  is  made  up 
of,  who  are  likely  to  be  affected  by  it,  and  what 
powers  they  are  which  can  both  give  and  take  it 
away  ? 

10.  A  spider  when  it  has  caught  a  fly  thinks  it 
has  done  some  great  deed,  and  so  does  a  sportsman 
when  he  has  run  down  a  hare,  and  a  fisherman  too 
when  he  has  caught  a  sprat  in  a  net.      Some   others 


must  kill  boars  or  bears  before  they  can  grow  con- 
ceited ;  and  a  fourth  sort  value  themselves  upon 
hunting  Sarmatians  ;  though  it  may  be  in  this  last 
case,  if  you  go  to  the  definition  of  robbing,  the 
one  are  as  much  thieves  as  the  other. 

11.  Observe  the  steps,  and  continually  study  the 
history  of  nature,  and  trace  the  progress  of  bodies 
from  one  form  and  species  to  another ;  contemplate 
often  upon  this  subject,  for  there  is  nothing  contributes 
so  much  to  greatness  of  mind.  He  that"  is  rightly 
affected  with  this  speculation  has  in  a  manner  laid  his 
body  aside.  He  considers  that  this  world  will  quickly 
be  over  with  him,  that  he  must  take  his  leave  of  man- 
kind and  everything  here.  In  consequence  of  these 
thoughts,  he  is  all  justice  in  his  acts,  and  resignation 
in  all  else.  And  as  for  what  people  will  say  or  think 
of  him,  or  practise  against  him,  he  never  minds  it. 
He  has  but  two  points  to  secure — that  is,  to  be  honest 
in  what  he  now  does,  and  contented  with  what  he  now 
receives.  As  for  other  projects  and  fancies,  he  has 
done  with  them.  His  business  is  only  to  follow  that 
straight  path  which  law  has  chalked  out  for  him,  for  in 
so  doing  he  has  the  Deity  for  his  guide. 

12.  Why  need  you  be  anxious  about  the  event 
when  you  may  examine  the  enterprise,  and  debate  the 
reasonableness  of  it  ?  K  you  find  it  practicable,  go  on 
contented,  and  let  nothing  divert  you.  But  if  you 
cannot  see  your  way,  make  a  halt,  and  take  the  best 
advice  upon  the  case.  And  if  you  happen  to  be 
stopped  by  some  new  emergency,  make  the  most  of 
what  is  in  your   power  with    due  consideration,  and 


always  stick  to  what  appears  just;  for  after  all,  that 
is  the  best  thing  to  get.  For  though  the  grand 
design  may  not  succeed,  yet  your  failure  arose  from 
attempting  this.  The  man  who  follows  reason  in  all 
things  is  calm,  and  yet  easily  moved,  cheerful,  and 
yet  grave. 

13.  When  you  are  first  awake  you  may  put  this 
question ;  whether  another  man's  virtue  will  signify  any- 
thing to  you  in  doing  your  business  ?  No,  it  will  signify 
nothing.  And  do  not  forget  what  sort  of  men  those  are 
which  value  themselves  so  much  upon  the  good  or  ill 
character  they  give  their  neighbours.  How  scandal- 
ously do  they  live  ?  How  are  they  overgrown  with 
luxury  and  vice  ?  How  foolish  are  their  fancies,  and 
how  unreasonable  their  fears  ?  See  how  they  steal 
and  rob,  not  with  hands  and  feet,  but  with  their  most 
valuable  pa,rt,  which,  if  a  man  pleases,  can  produce 
fidelity,  modesty,  truth,  law,  happiness. 

14.  He  that  is  truly  disciplined  and  reverent  will 
address  nature  in  this  language  :  "  Give  me  what  you 
please,  and  take  what  you  please  away."  And  there 
is  not  the  least  tincture  of  vanity  in  this,  but  it  pro- 
ceeds wholly  from  obedience  and  satisfaction  with  her. 

15.  Your  time  is  almost  over,  therefore  live  as  if 
you  were  on  a  mountain.  Place  signifies  nothing,  if 
you  live  everywhere  in  the  world  as  in  a  social  com- 
munity. Never  run  into  a  hole,  and  shun  company. 
No.  Let  the  Avorld  see  and  recognise  in  you  an 
honest  man  who  lives  according  to  nature ;  and  if  they 
do  not  like  him,  let  them  kill  him,  for  it  is  much 
better  he  were  served  so,  than  to  live  as  they  do. 


16.  Spend  no  more  time  in  stating  the  quali- 
fications of  a  man  of  virtue,  but  endeavour  to  get 

17.  Take  the  whole  bulk  of  matter  and  all  the 
extent  of  time  frequently  into  your  thoughts.  And 
then  consider  that  all  particular  bodies  are  but  a  grain 
in  the  proportion  of  substance,  and  but  the  turning  a 
gimlet  in  respect  of  time. 

18.  Examine  all  things  closely,  and  you  will  find 
them  already  decaying  and  changing,  and,  as  it  were, 
rotting  or  dispersing,  or  else  things  are  made  as  it  were 
to  be  unmade  again. 

19.  Consider  what  an  humble  figure  people  make 
w^hen  they  are  eating  or  sleeping.  But  then  when 
they  put  on  lordly  airs,  and  strut  about,  or  grow  angry, 
and  abuse  their  inferiors  from  an  altitude  !  And  yet 
how  many  little  masters  did  they  lately  cringe  to, 
how  mean  was  their  salary,  and  what  a  sorry  con- 
dition will  they  come  to  in  a  short  time  ? 

20.  That  is  best  for  every  man  which  universal 
nature  sends  him  ;  and  the  time  of  sending  too  is 
also  a  circumstance  of  advantage. 

21.  The  earth,  as  the  poet  has  it,  loves  the  re- 
freshment of  a  shower,  and  the  lofty  ether  loves  the 
earth.  And  the  world  loves  to  execute  the  decrees  of 
fate  ;  and  therefore,  say  I  to  the  universe,  your  in- 
clinations and  mine  shall  always  be  the  same.  And 
do  we  not  often  say  :   This  loves  to  be  produced  ? 

22.  Either  you  will  take  the  benefit  of  custom,  and 
continue  to  live,  or  you  cut  yourself  off  from  the  world ; 
and  this,  too,  was  your  wish ;  or  you  cease  to  live,  then 


death  will  give  you  your  discharge.     One  of  these  cases 
must  happen,  therefore  be  not  discouraged. 

23.  Take  it  for  a  rule  that  this  piece  of  land  is 
like  any  other,  and  that  all  things  here  are  the  same 
as  on  the  top  of  a  mountain,  or  by  the  sea-shore,  or 
where  you  will.  In  this  case,  as  Plato  observes,  the 
walls  of  a  town  and  the  inclosure  of  a  sheepfold  may 
be  much  the  same  thing. 

24.  How  does  my  guiding  principle  stand  affected  ? 
To  what  condition  am  I  now  bringing  it,  and  to  what 
uses  do  I  put  it  ?  Does  thought  run  low  with  me  ? 
Am  I  grown  selfish,  and  broken  loose  from  the  general 
interest  ?  Is  my  soul  as  it  were  melted  and  mingled 
with  the  body,  and  perfectly  governed  by  it  ? 

25.  He  that  runs  away  from  his  master  is  a 
fugitive  ;  now  the  law  is  every  man's  master,  and 
therefore  he  that  transgresses  it  is  a  deserter.  And 
all  those  that  are  dissatisfied,  angry,  and  uneasy,  desire 
that  something  past,  present,  or  future  should  not  be, 
of  that  which  was  appointed  by  the  ruler  of  all,  which 
is  justice,  and  which  gives  every  one  his  due,  and 
break  through  the  orders  of  Providence.  Thus  he 
who  is  dissatisfied,  or  angry,  or  uneasy,  is  a  deserter. 

26.  A  man  deposits  seed  in  a  womb,  and  then 
another  cause  takes  it  and  works  on  it,  and  makes  a 
child.  What  a  thing  from  such  a  material  !  Again 
the  child  passes  food  down  its  throat,  and  again 
another  cause  takes  it,  and  makes  perception  and 
motion,  life  and  strength,  and  other  things,  both  many 
and  strange  !  Observe  then  the  things  that  are  thus 
produced  in  darkness,  and  recognise  the  power  just  as 


ve  perceive  the  power  which  carries  thiugs  upwards 
ind  downwards,  not  with  the  eyes,  but  no  less 

27.  You  will  do  well  to  remember  that  the  world 
s  just  as  it  was  formerly,  and  will  go  on  at  the  same 

bate.  If  you  either  dip  into  history,  or  recollect  your 
)wn  experience,  you  will  perceive  the  scenes  of  life 
strangely  uniform,  and  nothing  but  the  old  plays 
revived.  Take  a  view  of  the  courts  of  Hadrian, 
Antoninus  Pius^  of  Philip,  of  Alexander,  or  Croesus, 
and  you  will  find  the  entertainment  the  same,  only 
the  actors  are  different. 

28.  He  that  struggles  with  his  fortune,  and  makes 
an  affliction  of  it,  is  much  like  a  pig  that  kicks  and 
cries  out  when  his  throat  is  cutting ;  and  he  that, 
when  he  is  sick,  mourns  to  himself  over  the  bonds  in 
which  we  are  held,  is  not  much  better.  "We  should 
consider  that  none  but  rational  creatures  have  the 
privilege  of  making  necessity  a  choice ;  merely  to 
submit  is  what  all  are  compelled  to  do. 

29.  Consider  the  satisfactions  of  life  singly,  and 
examine  them  as  they  come  up,  and  then  ask  yourself 
if  death  is  so  terrible  in  taking  them  from  you. 

80.   When   anybody's   misbehaviour   disturbs    you, 

immediately  turn  to  yourself  and  bethink  you  whether 

you   have   not   been    guilty   of   the   same   fault ;    for 

instance,    whether   you  have  not  over- valued  money, 

or   pleasure,  or  fame,  or  the  like.      Such  reflections 

will  quickly  make  you  forget  your  anger,  especially  if 

you  consider  that  the  offender  was  not  altogether  his 

own  man,  but  under  some  untoward  compulsion.      For 



what  else  could  he  do  ?     Therefore,  if  you  can,  step 
in  to  the  rescue  and  free  him  from  the  compulsion. 

31.  When  you  consider  Satyrion  the  Socratic, 
think  upon  Eutyches  or  Hymen ;  and  when  you 
remember  Euphrates,  think  upon  Eutychion  or  Syl- 
vanus;  and  when  Alciphron  comes  into  your  head, 
carry  your  thoughts  to  Tropseophorus  ;  and  when  you 
are  musing  upon  Xenophon,  let  Crito  or  Severus  come 
into  the  contemplation ;  and  when  you  make  yourself 
the  subject  of  your  meditations,  bring  some  of  the 
emperors,  your  predecessors,  into  your  company  ;  and 
thus  set  the  dead  and  the  living  of  the  same  character 
and  profession  always  one  against  another ;  then  ask 
the  question  :  Where  are  those  men  ?  The  answer  will 
be :  They  are  nowhere,  or  at  least  nowhere  that  I 
know  of.  Thus  you  will  be  strongly  convinced  that 
men  are  but  smoke  and  bubbles ;  and  this  impression 
will  go  the  deeper  if  you  consider  that  what  is  once 
perished  and  sunk  will  never  come  up  again  through- 
out the  ages.  As  for  your  share  of  time,  it  is 
but  a  moment  in  comparison.  Why  then  cannot  you 
manage  that  little  well  and  be  satisfied  ?  What  a 
noble  opportunity  of  improvement  do  you  run  away 
from  ?  For  what  are  all  the  revolutions  of  nature, 
and  the  accidents  of  life,  but  trials  of  skill  and 
eKorcises  of  reason  that  has  looked  through  the 
causes  of  things  carefully  and  philosophically.  Go  on 
then  till  you  have  digested  all  this  and  conquered  the 
difficulty,  for  I  would  have  you  be  like  a  strong 
stomach,  that  masters  all  sort  of  diet,  and  makes 
nourishment  of  it ;  or  if  you  please,  like  a  fire  well 



kindled,  whicli   catches   at  everything  you  throw  in, 
and  turns  it  into  flame  and  brightness. 

82.  Put  it  out  of  the  power  of  any  one  truly  to 
report  you  not  to  be  a  sincere  or  a  good  man ;  let  your 
practice  give  him  the  lie ;  this  is  all  very  feasible, 
for  pray  who  can  hinder  you  from  being  just  and 
sincere  ?  To  make  all  sure,  you  should  resolve  to  live 
no  longer  than  you  can  live  honestly ;  for,  in  earnest, 
reason  would  rather  you  were  nothing  than  a  knave. 

33.  What  is  it  that  is  most  proper  to  be  said  or 
done  upon  the  present  occasion  ?  Let  it  be  what  it 
will,  I  am  sure  it  is  in  your  power  to  perform  it,  and 
therefore  never  pretend  it  impracticable.  You  will 
never  leave  grumbling  till  you  can  practise  virtue  with 
a  relish,  and  make  it  your  pleasure  to  perform  those 
acts  that  are  suited  to  the  constitution  of  a  human 
being  ;  for  a  man  ought  to  hold  it  a  pleasure  to  do 
everything  that  is  suitable  to  his  nature,  and  that  is 
in  his  power.  Now  this  is  in  his  power  everywhere. 
The  motion  of  a  cylinder  may  be  stopped,  fire  and 
water  may  be  checked  in  their  tendency,  and  so  may 
any  part  of  the  vegetable  and  animal  world.  In  this 
case  a  great  many  obstructions  may  interpose,  but 
there  is  nothing  can  block  up  a  soul,  stop  the  course 
of  reason,  or  hinder  a  thought  from  running  in  its 
natural  channel  as  it  pleases.  He  that  considers  the 
irresistible  liberty  of  the  mind,  that  she  moves  as  easily 
as  fire  does  upwards,  as  a  stone  downwards,  as  a 
cylinder  on  a  smooth  descent,  seeks  nothing  farther; 
for  all  other  impediments  proceed  either  from  the 
body,  which  is  really  a  corpse,  or  else  they  are  founded 


in  opinion,  and  unless  we  betray  ourselves,  and  desert 
our  reason,  can  do  us  no  manner  of  mischief;  other- 
wise, ill  fortune,  as  it  is  commonly  called,  would 
make  a  man  ill,  for  all  other  productions  of  nature 
or  art,  when  any  harm  happens  to  them,  are  certainly 
the  worse  for  it,  but  here  a  man  is,  so  to  speak, 
the  better  for  what  he  suffers ;  he  improves  his 
value  and  raises  his  character  by  making  a  right  use 
of  a  rugged  accident.  In  short,  I  would  have  you 
remember,  that  no  citizen  can  receive  any  damage  by 
that  which  does  not  affect  the  community,  neither 
can  the  community  suffer  unless  the  laws  suffer  too ; 
but  these  misfortunes,  as  they  are  called,  do  not  violate 
the  laws,  therefore  they  do  not  hurt  the  community, 
nor  by  consequence  the  citizen. 

34.  He  that  is  well  tinctured  with  philosophy 
needs  but  a  short  receipt,  a  common  cordial  will  keep 
up  such  a  man's  spirits  and  expel  fear  from  his  heart. 
For  instance — 

"  As  leaves  on  trees  the  race  of  man  is  found, 
Now  green  in  youth,  now  withering  on  the  ground." 

So  your  children  are  but  leaves.  Leaves,  too,  are  the 
echoes  of  praise,  and  censure,  and  silent  blame,  and 
reproach.  Leaves,  too,  are  the  continuance  of  fame.  All 
these  matters,  like  leaves,  have  their  spring  for  growing, 
then  a  puff  of  wind  sends  them  packing,  and  quickly 
after  the  wood  is  new  furnished  again.  Things  are 
strangely  short-lived,  and  yet  you  fear  and  pursue 
them  as  if  all  were  everlasting,  but  for  all  that,  you 
will  soon  close  your  eyes,  and  then  he  that  is  your 
chief  mourner  will  quickly  want  another  for  himself. 


35.  An  eye  that  is  strong  and  rightly  disposed  is 
indifferent  to  all  colours,  therefore  if  it  calls  for  green, 
it  is  a  sign  it  is  weak  and  out  of  order.  Thus  when 
the  hearing  and  smelling  are  in  good  condition,  they 
do  not  pick  and  choose  their  objects,  but  take  in  all 
manner  of  scents  and  sounds.  Thus  a  strong  stomach 
despatches  all  that  comes  into  it,  like  a  mill  that 
grinds  all  sorts  of  grain.  And  thus  a  mind  that  is 
sound  and  healthy  is  prepared  to  digest  all  sorts  of 
accidents,  and  therefore  when  it  is  clamorous  in  such 
wishes  as  these  :  **  0  that  my  children  may  live  and 
flourish,  that  I  may  be  commended  for  everything  I 
do  ! "  when  the  mind,  I  say,  is  thus  sickly,  it  is  just 
like  an  eye  that  is  all  for  green  colours,  and  like  a  set 
of  teeth  that  would  touch  nothing  by  their  good  will 
but  soft  things. 

36.  There  is  nobody  so  happy  in  his  family  and 
friends,  but  that  some  of  them  when  they  see  him 
going  will  rejoice  at  his  death.  Let  him  be  a  person 
of  probity  and  prudence,  somebody  or  other  will  drop 
some  of  these  sentences  over  his  grave.  '*  Well !  our 
man  of  order  and  gravity  is  gone,  we  shall  now  be  no 
more  troubled  with  his  discipline  !  I  cannot  say  he 
was  ill-natured  to  any  of  us,  but  for  all  that,  I  am 
sensible  he  condemned  us  in  his  heart."  This  is  the 
best  treatment  a  good  man  must  expect.  But  alas  ! 
as  for  our  conduct,  how  many  reasons  will  people 
muster  up  to  be  rid  of  us  !  If  you  consider  this  when 
you  are  dying,  you  will  quit  life  with  the  less  reluct- 
ance. Say  then  to  yourself,  "  I  am  leaving  an  odd 
sort  of  world,  where  the  sharers  in  my  fortune,  and  the 


objects  of  my  care  and  kindness,  those  people  for  whom 
I  have  drudged  and  contrived,  and  wished  so  heartily, 
count  my  life  no  better  than  a  grievance,  and  would 
fain  be  rid  of  me  ;  now  who  would  be  fond  of  staying 
in  such  company  any  longer  ?"  However,  this 
thought  must  not  go  so  deep  as  to  sour  your  humour. 
You  must  keep  your  temper,  and  part  friendly  with 
every  body,  but  then  your  good  nature  must  not  make 
you  hang  back.  For  as  when  a  man  has  an  easy 
death,  the  soul  slides  gently  out  of  the  body,  so  you 
must  walk  off  handsomely,  and  bid  the  world  adieu 
without  regret.  It  is  true,  nature  has  twisted  your 
interests,  and  tied  you  together,  but  now  she  loosens 
the  knot,  and  makes  the  sign  to  disengage.  I  will 
part  then  with  the  world  as  with  my  friends  and 
relations,  but  for  all  my  kindness  I  will  not  be  dragged 
from  them  but  go  of  my  free  will.  For  this  too  is 
ordained  by  nature. 

37.  Let  it  be  your  constant  method  to  look  into 
the  design  of  people's  actions,  and  see  what  they 
would  be  at,  as  often  as  it  is  practicable ;  and  to 
make  this  custom  the  more  significant,  practise  it 
first  upon  yourself. 

38.  Eemember  that  what  pulls  and  hales  you  from 
one  passion  to  another,  is  but  your  fancy  within  you. 
There  lies  the  rhetoric  that  persuades  you.  That  is 
the  live  thing,  and  to  speak  plainly,  that  is  the  man, 
after  all.  But  when  you  talk  of  a  man,  I  would  not 
have  you  tack  flesh  and  blood  to  the  notion,  nor  those 
limbs  neither  which  are  made  out  of  it.  These  are 
but  tools  for  the  soul  to  work  with.     Now  the  only 


ifFerence  is  that  nature  lias  glued  them  as  it  were  to 
he  soul,  but  the  use  of  them  depends  solely  upon  the 
mnd.  It  is  the  will  that  either  checks  or  sets  them 
^oing.  They  have  but  the  force  of  instruments,  and 
dgnify  no  more  without  foreign  direction,  than  a 
shuttle,  a  pen,  or  a  whip,  which  will  neither  weave, 
nor  write,  nor  lash  the  horses,  without  somebody  to 
manage  them. 


BOOK    XI. 


1.  I^^^^^HE  properties  of  a  rational  soul  are 
these.  She  has  the  privilege  to  look 
into  her  own  nature,  to  cut  out  her 
qualities  and  form  herself  to  what 
character  she  pleases.  She  enjoys 
her  product  (whereas  trees  and  cattle  bring  plenty  for 
other  folks).  Whether  life  proves  long  or  short,  she 
gains  the  ends  of  living.  Her  business  is  never  spoilt 
by  interruption,  as  it  happens  in  a  dance  or  a  play. 
In  every  part  and  in  spite  of  every  interruption,  her 
acts  are  always  finished  and  entire  ;  so  that  she  may  say: 
I  carry  off  all  that  belongs  to  me.  Farther,  she  ranges 
through  the  whole  world,  views  its  figure,  looks  into 
the  vacuum  on  the  outside  of  it,  and  strains  her  sight  on 
to  an  immeasurable  length  of  time.  She  contemplates 
the  grand  revolutions  of  nature,  and  the  destruction 
and  renewal  of  the  universe  at  certain  periods.  She 
considers  that  there  will  be  nothing  new  for  posterity 
to  gaze  at ;  and  that  our  ancestors  stood  upon  the 
same  level  for  observation ;  in  so  much  that  in  forty 
years'  time  a  tolerable  genius  for  sense  and  enquiry 
may  acquaint  himself  with  all  that  is  past  and  all  that 
is  to  come  by  reason  of  the  uniformity  of  all  things. 



Lastly,  it  is  the  property  of  a  rational  soul  to  love  her 
neighbours,  to  be  remarkable  for  truth  and  sobriety, 
to  prefer  nothing  to  her  own  dignity  and  authority, 
which  has  likewise  the  custom  and  prerogative  of  a 
law  ;  and  thus  far  right  reason  and  rational  justice  are 
the  same. 

2.  The  way  to  despise  the  pleasure  of  a  fine  song, 
a  well-performed  dance,  or  the  athletic  exercises,  is  as 
follows  :  as  for  the  song,  take  the  music  in  pieces 
and  examine  the  notes  by  themselves,  and  ask  as  you 
go  along,  "  Is  it  this  or  this  single  sound,  that  has 
subdued  me  ? "  You  will  be  ashamed  to  confess  the 
conquest.  Thus,  to  lessen  the  diversion  of  dancing, 
consider  every  movement  and  gesture  apart;  and  this 
method  will  hold  with  respect  to  athletic  contests. 
In  short,  all  things  but  virtue  and  virtuous  acts  abate 
by  taking  them  asunder,  and,  therefore,  apply  the 
expedient  to  all  other  parts  of  your  life. 

3.  What  a  brave  soul  is  that  that  is  always  pre- 
pare'd  to  leave  the  body  and  unconcerned  about  her 
being  either  extinguished,  scattered,  or  removed — pre- 
pared, I  say,  upon  judgment,  and  not  out  of  mere 
obstinacy  like  the  Christians — but  with  a  solemn  air  of 
gravity  and  consideration,  and  in  a  way  to  persuade 
another  and  without  tragic  show. 

4.  Have  I  obliged  anybody,  or  done  the  world  any 
service  ?  If  so,  the  action  has  rewarded  me.  This 
answer  will  encourage  good  nature,  therefore  let  it 
always  be  at  hand. 

0.  What  may  your  trade  or  profession  be  ?  It  is 
to  live  like  a  man  of  virtue  and  probity.      And  how 


can  this  end  be  compassed,  but  by  the  contemplation 
of  the  nature  of  the  world  and  of  mankind  in  par- 

6.  As  to  dramatic  performances,  tragedy  appeared 
1  first.  The  design  of  them  was  to  show  that  the  mis- 
*  fortunes  of  life  were  customary  and  common,  and  that 
what  attracted  them  upon  the  stage,  might  surprise 
them  the  less  when  they  met  with  it  on  the  larger 
stage  of  the  world.  Thus  people  see  that  these 
events  must  happen,  and  that  even  those  who  cry  out, 
"  0  Cithaeron,''  cannot  stand  clear  of  them.  And  to 
give  the  stage-poets  their  due,  they  have  some  service- 
able passages,  as,  for  instance, 

"  if  L  and  mine  are  by  the  gods  neglected, 
There's  reason  for  their  rigour." 

Again — 

"  Ne'er  fret  at  accidents,  for  things  are  sullen. 
And  don't  regard  your  anger  ; " 

Once  more — 

"  J^'ate  mows  down  life  like  corn,  this  mortal  falls, 
Another  stands  a  while." 

And  others  like  them.  Next  to  tragedy,  old  comedy 
took  a  turn  upon  the  stage  ;  and  here  pride  and  am- 
bition were  lashed  and  pointed  at  with  great  freedom 
and  authority,  and  not  without  some  success ;  and  for 
this  reason,  Diogenes  sometimes  borrowed  from  them. 
You  are  now  to  observe  that  middle  comedy  succeeded 
to  the  old,  and  the  new  to  the  middle,  this  last  kind 
sinking  by  degrees  to  the  buffoonery  of  the  mimi.     It 


is  true,  there  are  some  useful  expressions  to  be  met 
with  even  here ;  but  then  you  are  to  consider  the 
tendency  of  the  whole  poetic  art,  and  whether  these 
dramatic  diversions  drive  at  any  aim. 

7.  Nothing  is  clearer  to  me  than  that  the  present 
state  of  your  life  is  as  good  for  philosophy  and  im- 
provement as  any  other  whatsoever. 

8.  A  bough  by  being  lopped  off  from  another,  must 
of  necessity  be  lopped  from  the  whole  tree  ;  thus  a 
man  that  breaks  with  another  loses  the  benefit  of  the 
whole  community.  It  is  true  a  bough  is  lopped  off 
by  a  foreign  hand,  but  the  man  pulls  himself  asunder 
by  his  untoward  aversion  and  hatred  to  his  neighbour. 
He  little  thinks  how  he  disincorporates  himself  by  this 
unhappy  division  from  the  body  of  mankind  !  And 
here  the  goodness  of  God  who  founded  this  society  is 
extraordinary.  He  has  put  it  in  our  power  to  grow  to 
the  limb  we  left,  and  come  again  into  the  advantage 
of  the  main  bod3\  But  if  this  misfortune  is  often 
repeated,  it  will  be  a  hard  matter  to  restore  the  part 
and  close  the  division.  For,  as  gardeners  observe,  a 
bough  cut  off  and  grafted  in  again  is  not  in  the  same 
good  condition  with  another  which  always  flourished 
upon  the  trunk.  We  should  be  one  in  growth,  though 
not  in  sympathy. 

9.  People's  malice  or  impertinence  cannot  beat  you 
off  your  reason,  or  stop  your  progress  in  virtue.  Be 
not  then  disconcerted,  nor  check  your  good  nature  to- 
wards them.  If  you  meet  with  opposition  and  ill- 
will,  you  must  neither  be  diverted  nor  disturbed,  but 
keep  your  right  judgment  and  action  and  your  temper 

MEDITATIONS.      -  185 

too  towards  people  who  try  to  hinder  you  or  otherwise 
annoy  you.  For  as  it  is  a  weakness  to  give  in  from 
fear  and  be  diverted  from  your  conduct,  so  it  is 
likewise  to  be  angry  with  impertinent  people.  They 
are  both  a  sort  of  deserters  from  Providence,  who  are 
either  frightened  from  their  duty,  or  fall  out  with 
those  of  their  own  nature  and  family. 

10.  Nature  falls  short  of  art  in  no  instance,  art 
being  but  an  imitation  of  nature ;  and  if  so,  the  most 
perfect  and  all-embracing  nature  cannot  be  supposed  to 
work  with  less  skill  than  a  common  artificer.  Now, 
in  all  arts  the  less  in  value  are  contrived  for  the  sake 
of  the  greater.  This,  therefore,  is  the  method  of 
universal  nature,  and  upon  this  ground  justice  is 
founded.  The  other  virtues  are  but  acts  of  justice 
differently  applied.  But  just  we  can  never  be  if  we 
are  eager  and  anxious  about  external  advantages,  if  we 
are  apt  to  be  led  astray  and  grow  over-hasty,  and  in- 
constant in  our  motion. 

11.  Aversions  and  desires  are  the  general  occasions 
of  disturbance.  Now  since  the  objects  of  these  pas- 
sions do  not  press  upon  you,  but  it  is  you  that  make 
up  to  them  in  some  measure,  you  should  let  your 
opinion  about  them  lie  still,  and  they  too  will  keep 
still,  and  then  you  will  neither  be  seen  pursuing  nor 
avoiding  them  any  longer. 

12.  The  figure  of  the  soul  is  then  round  and  uni- 
form, when  she  neither  reaches  after  anything  foreign, 
nor  shrinks  into  herself,  nor  is  dispersed  or  sunk  in, 
but  shines  in  the  light  by  which  she  surveys  the  truth 
of  all  things  and  of  herself  too. 


18.  Does  anyone  despise  me?  It  is  his  look-out. 
I  will  take  care  not  to  give  him  any  reason  for  his  con- 
tempt by  my  words  and  acts.  Does  anyone  hate  me  ? 
It  is  his  look-out.  I  will  continue  kind  and  good- 
humoured  to  all  the  world,  even  to  the  injurious  per- 
son himself.  I  am  always  ready  to  show  him  his  error 
without  abuse,  or  making  a  display  of  my  own 
patience,  but  frankly,  and  with  cordial  sincerity,  as 
Phocion  did,  unless  indeed  this  was  put  on.  Indeed 
your  mind  should  always  be  so  disposed,  that  the  gods 
may  examine  you,  and  perceive  that  you  are  neither 
angry  nor  uneasy  at  anything.  Now,  if  you  follow 
the  current  of  your  nature  of  your  own  free  will,  and 
accept  that  which  is  now  suitable  to  the  universal 
nature,  where  is  the  harm  in  it,  when  you  know  you 
were  made  on  purpose  to  comply  with  the  interest  of 
the  universe  ? 

14.  People  generally  despise  where  they  Hatter, 
and  cringe  to  those  they  would  gladly  overtop. 

15.  How  fulsome  and  hollow  does  that  man  look  that 
cries,  "I'm  resolved  to  deal  straightforwardly  with  you." 
Hark  you,  friend,  what  need  of  all  this  flourish  ?  Let 
your  actions  speak  ;  your  face  ought  to  vouch  for  your 
speech.  I  would  have  virtue  look  out  of  the  eye,  no 
less  apparently  than  love  does  in  the  sight  of  the 
beloved.  I  would  have  honesty  and  sincerity  so  incor- 
porated with  the  constitution,  that  it  should  be  dis- 
coverable by  the  senses,  and  as  easily  distinguished  as 
a  strone:  breath,  so  that  a  man  must  be  forced  to  find  it 
out  whether  he  would  or  no.  But  on  the  other  side 
an  affectation  of  sincerity  is  a  very  dagger.     Nothing 


is  more  scandalous  than  false  friendship,  and,  there- 
fore, of  all  things  avoid  it.  In  short,  a  man  of  in- 
tegrity, sincerity,  and  good-nature  can  never  be 
concealed,  for  his  character  is  wrought  into  his 

16.  To  bestow  no  more  upon  objects  than  they 
deserve ;  and  where  things  are  indifferent,  to  let  our 
thoughts  be  so  too,  is  a  noble  expedient  for  happiness, 
and  this  faculty  we  have  in  our  souls.  The  way  to 
attain  to  this  indifference  is  to  look  through  matters, 
and  take  them  quite  asunder,  remembering  always 
that  things  cannot  enter  into  the  soul,  nor  force  upon 
us  any  opinions  about  them  ;  they  are  quiet.  It  is 
our  fancy  that  makes  opinions  about  them  ;  it  is  we 
that  write  within  ourselves,  though  it  is  in  our  power 
not  to  write.  And  if  any  false  colours  are  laid  on  by 
surprise,  we  may  rub  them  out  if  we  please.  We  are 
likewise  to  consider  that  this  trouble  will  not  last, 
that  death  will  relieve  us  soon.  Where,  then,  is  the 
difficulty  of  standing  upon  our  guard  a  little  while  ? 
If  these  things  are  in  accordance  with  nature,  bid 
them  heartily  welcome,  and  then  your  inclination  will 
make  you  easy  ;  but  if  they  prove  contrary  to  nature, 
look  out  for  something  that  is  more  serviceable  to  your 
nature,  and  pursue  that,  even  if  it  bring  you  no  glory. 
For  certainly  every  man  may  make  himself  happy  if 
he  can. 

17.  Consider  the  original  of  all  things,  the   matter 

they    are    made    of,    the    alterations   they  must   run 

through,  and  the  result  of  the  change.      And  that  all 

this  does  no  manner  of  harm. 



18.  Concerning  those  that  offend,  consider  in  the 
first  place,  the  relation  you  stand  in  towards  men, 
and  that  we  are  all  made  for  each  other.  And  for  my 
own  part  I  am  particularly  set  at  the  head  of  the  world, 
like  a  ram  over  a  flock,  or  a  bull  over  a  herd.  You 
may  go  higher  in  your  reasoning,  if  you  please,  and 
consider  that  either  atoms  or  nature  governs  the 
universe.  If  the  latter,  then  the  coarser  parts  of  the 
creation  were  made  for  the  service  of  their  betters  ; 
and  these  last  for  the  sake  of  each  other. 

Secondly.  Consider  what  men  are  at  bed  and  board, 
and  at  other  times ;  especially  you  should  remember 
what  strong  compulsion  of  opinion  they  lie  under,  and 
with  what  pride  they  perform  their  acts. 

Thirdly.  Consider  that  if  those  men  are  in  the 
right,  you  have  no  reason  to  be  angry ;  but  if  they 
are  in  the  wrong,  it  is  because  they  know  no  better. 
They  are  under  the  necessity  of  their  own  ignorance. 
For  as  no  soul  is  voluntarily  deprived  of  truth,  so 
nobody  would  offend  against  good  manners,  if  they 
were  rightly  aware  of  it.  And  thus  we  see  people 
will  not  endure  the  charge  of  injustice,  ingratitude, 
selfishness,  or  knavery  of  any  description,  without 
being  stung  at  the  imputation. 

Fourthly.  Do  not  forget  you  are  like  the  rest  of 
the  world,  and  faulty  yourself  in  a  great  many  in- 
stances :  that  though  you  may  forbear  from  some  errors, 
it  is  not  for  want  of  inclination,  and  that  nothing 
but  cowardice,  vanity,  or  some  such  base  principle 
hinders  you  from  sinning. 

Fifthly.   That  it  is  sometimes  a  hard   matter  to  be 


certain  whether  men  do  wrong,  for  their  actions  often 
are  done  with  a  reference  to  circumstances  ;  and  one 
must  be  thoroughly  informed  of  a  great  many  things 
before  he  can  be  rightly  qualified  to  give  judgment  in 
the  case. 

Sixthly,  When  you  are  most  angry  and  vexed 
remember  that  human  life  lasts  but  a  moment,  and 
that  we  shall  all  of  us  very  quickly  be  laid  in  our 

Seventhly,  Consider  that  it  is  not  other  people's 
actions  (for  they  are  lodged  in  their  ruling  principles), 
which  disturb  us,  but  only  our  own  opinions  about  them. 
Do  but  then  dismiss  these  notions,  and  do  not  fancy 
the  thing  a  grievance,  and  your  passion  will  have 
ceased  immediately.  But  how  can  this  fancy  be  dis- 
charged ?  By  considering  that  bare  suffering  has  no 
infamy  in  it.  Now  unless  you  restrain  the  notion  of 
evil  to  what  is  disgraceful,  you  will  be  under  a 
necessity  of  doing  a  great  many  unwarrantable  things, 
and  become  a  robber  and  a  villain  generally. 

Eighthly,  Consider  that  our  anger  and  impatience 
often  prove  much  more  mischievous  than  the  things 
about  which  we  are  angry  or  impatient. 

Ninthly,  That  gentleness  is  invincible,  provided  it 
is  of  the  right  stamp,  without  anything  of  hypocrisy 
or  malice.  This  is  the  way  to  disarm  the  most 
insolent,  if  you  continue  kind  and  unmoved  under 
ill  usage,  if  you  strike  in  with  the  right  opportunity 
for  advice.  If  when  he  is  going  to  do  you  an  ill  turn 
you  endeavour  to  recover  his  understanding,  and  re- 
trieve his  temper  by  such   language  as  this  :  I  pray 

190  MEDtTATiOm, 

you,  child,  be  quiet,  men  were  never  made  to  worry 
one  another.  I  shall  not  be  injured,  but  you  are 
injuring  yourself,  child.  Then  proceed  to  illustrate 
the  point  by  general  and  inoffensive  arguments. 
Show  him  that  it  is  not  the  custom  of  bees  to  spend 
their  stings  upon  their  own  kind,  nor  of  cattle  whose 
nature  it  is  to  dwell  in  herds.  And  let  all  this  be 
done  out  of  mere  love  and  kindness,  without  any 
irony  or  scorn.  Do  not  seem  to  lecture  him  or 
court  the  audience  for  commendation,  but  discourse 
him  either  alone,  and  if  others  are  present,  as  if  there 
was  nobody  but  himself. 

Lay  up  these  nine  heads  in  your  memory  with  as 
much  care  as  if  they  were  a  present  from  the  nine 
muses,  for  now  it  is  high  time  to  begin  to  be  a  man 
for  your  lifetime.  And  here  you  must  guard  against 
flattery,  as  well  as  anger,  for  these  are  both  unsocial 
qualities,  and  do  a  great  deal  of  mischief  Remember 
always,  when  you  are  angry,  that  rage  is  the  mark  of 
an  unmanly  disposition.  Mildness  and  temper  are 
not  only  more  human,  but  more  masculine  too.  One 
thus  affected  appears  much  more  brave,  and  firm,  and 
manly  than  one  that  is  vexed  and  angry.  For  he 
that  has  the  least  passion  in  these  cases  has  always 
the  most  strength.  On  the  other  hand,  as  grief  is  a 
sign  of  weakness,  so  is  anger  too.  A  man  is  wounded 
in  both  these  passions,  and  the  smart  is  too  big  for  him. 

As  you  have  received  these  nine  precepts  from  the 
Muses,  take  this  tenth  if  you  please,  from  their  leader, 
Apollo:  That  to  wish  that  ill  people  may  not  do  ill 
things  is  to  wish  an  impossibility,  and  no  better  than 


madness.  But  then  to  give  them  leave  to  plague 
other  folks,  and  desire  to  be  privileged  yourself,  is  a 
foolish  and  insolent  expectation. 

19.  There  are  four  evil  qualities  we  must  be  particu- 
larly careful  to  avoid,  and  pull  them  up  as  fast  as  we 
find  them,  and  address  them  as  they  rise  in  this 
fashion.  "  This  fancy,"  say,  "  is  unnecessary ;  this 
rough  behaviour  destroys  society  ;  this  phrase  I  cannot 
say  from  my  heart.  Now  this  is  most  absurd,  not 
to  speak  from  your  heart."  These  are  three  of  them  ; 
and  when  you  shall  reproach  yourself  for  anything, 
since  this  degrades  the  diviner  part  of  you,  makes 
your  mind  truckle  to  your  body,  and  your  reason  to 
your  pleasures,  look  upon  that  as  the  fourth. 

20.  Those  particles  of  fire  and  air  which  are  lodged 
in  your  body,  notwithstanding  their  tendency  to  mount, 
submit  to  the  laws  of  the  universe,  and  keep  the  rest 
of  the  elements  company.  Again,  the  earthy  and 
watery  parts  in  you,  though  they  naturally  press  down- 
wards, are  raised  above  their  level,  and  stand  poised 
in  an  unnatural  position  ;  thus  the  elements  serve  the 
interest  of  the  world.  For  when  they  have  been  fixed 
anywhere  they  keep  their  post  till  the  signal  is 
given  to  separate.  And  is  it  not  then  a  scandalous 
thing  that  your  mind  should  be  the  only  deserter, 
and  grow  mutinous  about  her  station,  especially  when 
her  orders  agree  with  her  constitution,  and  nothing 
that  is  unnatural  is  enjoined  ?  And  yet  she  will  not 
bear  the  conduct  of  her  own  faculties,  but  runs  perfectly 
counter  to  humanity.  For  when  a  man  turns  knave 
or  libertinOj  when  he  gives  way  to  fears   and   anger 


and  fits  of  the  spleen,  lie  does  as  it  were  run  away  from 
himself  and  desert  his  own  nature  ;  and  further,  when 
his  mind  complains  of  his  fortune  it  quits  the  station 
in  which  Providence  has  placed  it ;  for  acquiescence 
and  piety  are  no  less  its  duty  than  honesty ;  for  these 
virtues  tend  to  the  common  interest,  and  are  rather  of 
greater  antiquity  and  value  than  justice. 

21.  He  that  does  not  always  drive  at  the  same  end 
in  his  life  will  never  be  uniform  and  of  a  piece  in  his 
conduct.  But  this  hint  is  too  short,  unless  you 
describe  the  quality  that  we  ought  principally  to  aim 
at.  Now  as  people  do  not  agree  in  the  preferences  of 
the  things  that  in  some  way  seem  good  to  the  many, 
unless  in  what  relates  to  the  common  good,  so  a  man 
ought  to  propose  the  benefit  of  society  and  the  general 
interest  of  the  world  as  his  main  aim.  For  he  that 
levels  at  this  mark  will  keep  an  even  hand,  and  thus 
be  always  consistent  with  himself 

22.  Remember  the  story  of  the  country  and  the 
town  mouse,  and  how  pitifully  the  former  was 
frightened  and  surprised. 

28.  Socrates  used  to  say  the  common  objects  of 
terror  were  nothing  but  bogies,  fit  only  to  scare 

24.  The  Lacedaemonians,  at  their  public  shows, 
seated  strangers  under  a  canopy  in  the  shade,  but 
made  their  own  people  take  their  convenience  as  they 
found  it. 

25.  Socrates,  being  invited  to  Perdiccas's  court, 
made  his  excuse  : — I  dare  not  come,  says  he,  for  fear 
of  being   put   under   an    incapacity    of  returning   an 


obligation,  which  I  take  to  be  the  worst  way  of 
destroying  a  man  imaginable. 

26.  It  is  a  precept  of  the  Ephesian  philosophers, 
that  we  should  always  furnish  our  memory  with  some 
eminent  example  of  ancient  virtue. 

Ii7.  The  Pythagoreans  would  have  us  look  up  into 
the  sky  every  morning,  to  put  us  in  mind  of  the  order 
and  constancy  of  the  heavenly  bodies,  of  the  equality 
and  purity  of  their  matter,  and  how  frankly  they  lie 
open  to  observation  :  for  a  star  never  wears  a  veil. 

28.  Remember  how  unconcernedly  Socrates  wore  a 
sheepskin,  when  Xanthippe  had  got  his  coat  on, 
and  ran  out  with  it.  And  how  well  he  laughed  off 
the  matter  to  his  friends,  who  were  strangely  out  of 
Countenance  by  seeing  him  in  such  a  disguise. 

29.  People  do  not  pretend  to  teach  others  to  write 
and  read  till  they  have  been  taught  themselves;  this 
rule  holds  much  more  of  life. 

oO.  Be  dumb;  slaves  have  not  the  privilege  of 

81.    "And  my  heart  laughed  within." 

r>2.  "And  virtue  they  will  curse,  speaking  hard 

JiS.  He  is  a  madman  that  expects  figs  on  the  trees 
in  winter ;  and  he  is  little  better  that  calls  for  his 
children  again  when  they  are  dead  and  buried. 

o4.  Epictetus  would  have  a  man  when  he  is  kiss- 
ing and  caressing  his  child,  say  to  himself  at  the  same 
time  :  To-morrow  perhaps  you  may  die  and  leave  me. 
These  are  words  of  ill  omen,  you  will  say.  That  is 
your  mistake;    the  conseq^uences  of  mortality  and  the 


course  of  nature  are  no  ominous  things  to  tliiuk  on, 
otherwise  it  would  be  an  ominous  business  to  cut 
down  a  little  grass  or  corn. 

85.  Grapes  are  first  sour,  then  ripe,  then  raisins, 
these  are  all  no  more  than  bare  alterations ;  not  into 
nothing,  but  into  something  which  does  not  appear  at 

36.  As  Epictetus  observes,  nobody  can  rob  another 
of  his  free  will. 

37.  The  same  philosopher  has  taught  us  the  art  of 
managing  our  assent  and  movements  ;  that  we  should 
have  a  regard  to  circumstances ;  that  our  inclinations 
should  be  generous  and  benevolent,  and  proportioned 
to  the  merit  and  dignity  of  things  ;  that  we  must 
keep  our  desires  from  being  headstrong,  and  never 
have  an  aversion  for  anything  which  it  is  out  of  our 
power  to  hinder. 

38.  Therefore,  as  Epictetus  observes,  the  contest  is 
no  trifle,  but  whether  we  are  to  live  in  our  wits  or  out 
of  them. 

89.  It  is  a  saying  of  Socrates  to  some  untoward 
people  :  "  What  would  you  be  at  ?  Would  you  have 
the  soul  of  a  man  or  of  a  beast  in  you  ?  Of  a 
man.  Of  what  sort  of  men,  of  those  that  use  their 
reason,  or  those  that  abuse  it  ?  Of  the  first.  Why 
then,  continues  the  philosopher,  do  not  you  look  out  for 
this  privilege  ?  Because  we  have  it  already.  What 
makes  you  then  disagree,  and  fall  foul  upon  each 
other  ? " 




tPww^S*  W  W  W^k^  WW  WW  w  w  w 


LL  those  things  you  drudge,  and  range  so 
much  ground  for,  you  may  have  at  your 
ease,  unless  you  are  afraid  of  making 
yourself  too  happy.  Your  method  to  do 
your  business  is  not  to  concern  yourself 
about  the  time  past,  for  that  is  never  to  be  recovered  ; 
to  rest  the  future  with  Providence,  and  only  stick  to 
the  present,  and  improve  that  to  all  the  noble  pur- 
poses of  piety  and  justice.  The  pious  part  will  be 
discharged  by  being  contented  with  your  fate ;  and 
why  should  you  not,  since  nature  made  you  for  each 
other?  And  as  to  the  obligations  of  justice,  you  will 
acquit  yourself  here,  provided  you  speak  truth  boldly 
and  above  board,  and  make  law  and  the  dignity  of 
things  your  rule  to  act  by.  Wherein  you  are  not  to 
be  checked  in  your  progress  by  the  misbehaviour,  the 
ignorance,  and  impertinent  reports  of  other  people, 
nor  yet  by  the  sensations  of  the  body  that  surrounds 
you,  for  the  part  that  suffers  must  look  to  that.  To 
go  on :  If,  since  your  life  is  almost  up,  you  lay  aside 
all  other  matters,  and  only  cultivate  your  mind,  and 
pay  a  regard  to  the  governing  and  diviner  part  of 
yourself;  if  you  are  not  at  all  afraid  of  losing  your 


life,  but  only  of  never  begiDning  to  live  in  accordance 
with  nature,  then  you  will  act  suitably  to  your  ex- 
traction, and  deserve  to  be  the  offspring  of  the  uni- 
verse ;  then  you  will  be  no  longer  a  stranger  in  your 
own  country,  nor  be  surprised  at  common  accidents ; 
you  will  never  be  dependent  on  this  or  that. 

2.  God  sees  through  the  soul  of  every  man  as 
clearly  as  if  it  was  not  wrapped  up  in  matter,  nor  had 
anything  of  the  shroud  and  coarseness  of  body  about 
it.  And  God,  with  his  intellectual  part  alone,  touches 
those  beings  only  that  have  flowed  and  proceeded  from 
him.  Now,  if  you  would  learn  to  do  thus,  a  great 
deal  of  trouble  would  be  saved  ;  for  he  that  can  over- 
look his  body  will  hardly  disturb  himself  about  the 
clothes  he  wears,  the  house  he  dwells  in,  about  his 
reputation,  or  any  part  of  this  pomp  and  magnificence. 

3.  You  consist  of  three  parts — your  body,  your 
breath,  and  your  mind.  The  first  two  are  yours  to 
take  care  of,  but  the  latter  is  properly  your  person. 
Therefore,  if  you  abstract  from  the  notion  of  yourself, 
that  is,  of  your  mind,  whatever  other  people  either 
say  or  do,  or  whatever  you  may  have  said  or  done 
yourself  formerly,  together  with  all  that  disturbs 
you  under  the  consideration  of  its  coming  to  pass 
hereafter  ;  if  you  throw  the  necessary  motions  of  your 
carcass  out  of  the  definition,  and  those  of  the  vortex 
that  whirls  about  you,  and  by  this  means  preserve 
your  rational  faculties  in  an  independent  state  of  inno- 
cence, free  from  the  allotments  of  -fate,  holding  close 
and  steady  to  the  virtues  of  justice,  truth,  and  acqui- 
escence ;    if  I  say,  you  keep  your  mind  separate  and 


distinguished  from  the  objects  of  appetite  and  the 
events  of  time,  both  past  and  future,  and  make  your- 
self like  Empedocles's  world, 

"  Eound  as  a  ball  in  joyous  rest  reposing," 

and  concern  yourself  to  live  no  longer  than  your 
real  life,  that  is  the  present  moment  ;  if  you  do  all 
this,  you  may  move  on  till  death  stops  you,  with 
credit  and  in  harmony  with  the  deity  within  you. 

4.  I  have  often  wondered  how  it  comes  to  pass 
that  everybody  should  love  themselves  best,  and  yet 
value  their  neighbour's  opinion  about  themselves  more 
than  their  own.  Therefore,  if  any  god  or  eminent 
instructor  should  stand  at  a  man's  elbow  and  order 
him  to  turn  his  inside  outwards,  and  publish  every 
thought  and  fancy  as  fast  as  they  came  into  his  head, 
lie  would  not  submit  so  much  as  to  a  day's  discipline  ; 
thus  we  stand  more  in  awe  of  our  neighbour's  judg- 
ments than  our  own. 

5.  How  comes  it  that  since  the  gods  have  con- 
trived all  things  so  well,  and  so  much  to  the 
benefit  of  mankind,  they  should  overlook  this  parti- 
cular, and  suffer  men  of  great  virtue  and  merit,  who, 
by  their  piety  and  devotion,  were,  as  it  were,  in  com- 
munion with  the  powers  above,  and  kept  always  a 
correspondence  with  heaven,  that  they  should  suffer 
such  men,  I  say,  to  be  finally  extinguished  by  death, 
and  not  give  them  their  being  again  ?  Now,  if  the 
case  stands  thus,  you  may  be  assured  had  it  been 
proper,  the  gods  would  have  ordered  it  otherwise  ;  for 
had  it  been  right  it  would  have  been  possible,  and 


nature  would  certainly  have  brought  it  forth  if  it  had 
been  natural ;  therefore  from  its  not  being  matter  of  fact, 
if  indeed  it  is  not,  you  may  undoubtedly  conclude  it 
ought  not  to  be  so.  For  do  not  you  perceive  that  in 
reasoning  this  point  you  dispute  the  administration  of 
providence  ?  Now,  if  the  justice  and  goodness  of  the 
gods  were  not  extraordinary,  this  liberty  would  not  be 
allowed,  neither  would  you  presume  so  far  if  you 
thought  otherwise  ;  but,  if  they  have  these  perfections, 
they  will  never  neglect  their  affairs,  nor  blemish  their 
world  with  anything  that  is  unreasonable  or  unjust. 

6.  Accustom  yourself  to  master  things  which  you 
seem  to  despair  of,  for,  if  you  observe,  the  left  hand, 
though,  for  want  of  practice,  it  is  insignificant  in  other 
business,  yet  it  holds  the  bridle  better  than  the  right 
because  it  has  been  used  to  it. 

7.  Consider  what  death  will  make  of  you,  both  as 
to  body  and  mind,  recollect  the  shortness  of  life,  the 
immeasurable  extent  of  time,  both  past  and  future, 
and  how  slenderly  all  things  are  put  together. 

8.  Let  it  be  your  method  to  contemplate  spirits 
apart  from  the  shell  they  are  shut  up  in,  mind  the 
aim  of  people's  actions,  examine  the  value  of  fame,  the 
force  of  pain  and  pleasure,  and  see  what  death  amounts 
to,  and  what  reputation,  consider  upon  what  account  a 
man  grows  troublesome  to  himself,  that  nobody  can  be 
hindered  by  another,  and  that  everything  is  opinion. 

9.  We  must  manage  the  precepts  of  philosophy  like 
those  that  wrestle  and  box  in  the  circus,  and  not  like 
a  gladiator ;  for  your  fencer  if  he  drops  his  sword 
is  hewn  down  immediately,  but  the  other  that  makes 


weapons  of  his  limbs  has  nothing  to  do  but  to  keep 
his  hands  stirring. 

1 0.  Be  not  satisfied  with  a  superficial  view  of  things, 
but  penetrate  into  their  matter  and  form,  and  the  end 
they  were  made  for. 

11..  What  a  mighty  privilege  is  a  man  born  to, 
since  it  is  in  his  power  not  to  do  anything  but  what  God 
Almighty  approves,  and  to  be  satisfied  with  all  the 
distributions  of  Providence. 

12.  When  things  follow  from  the  course  of  nature, 
we  ought  not  to  blame  the  gods,  for  they  do  no 
wrong  either  willingly  or  against  their  will,  nor  yet 
men,  for  their  misbehaviour  is  all  involuntary.  There- 
fore we  must  complain  of  nobody. 

13.  How  unacquainted  is  that  man  with  the  world, 
and  how  ridiculous  does  he  appear,  that  makes  a 
wonder  of  anything  he  meets  with  in  this  life  ! 

14.  Either  the  order  of  things  is  fixed  by  irrevoc- 
able fate,  or  providence  may  be  worked  into  com- 
passion, or  else  the  world  floats  at  random  without 
any  steerage.  Now  if  nature  lies  under  an  immovable 
necessity,  to  what  purpose  should  you  struggle  against 
it  ?  If  the  favour  of  providence  is  to  be  gained, 
qualify  yourself  for  the  divine  assistance  ;  but  if  chance 
and  confusion  prevail,  be  you  contented  that  in  such  a 
storm  you  have  a  governing  intelligence  within  you, 
and  if  the  waves  run  too  high,  let  them  carry  away 
your  body,  your  breath,  and  all  things  else,  but  there 
is  no  necessity  your  mind  should  be  driven  with  them. 

15.   A  lamp  till  it  is  extinguished  holds  its  light, 
w^^d  shines  without  interruption,  and  can  you  find  in 


your   heart  to  see  your  truth,  honesty,  and  sobriety 
extinguished  before  you  ? 

16.  When  you  fancy  anyone  has  transgressed,  say 
this  to  yourself :  How  do  I  know  it  is  a  fault  ?  And 
granting  it  is,  it  may  be  his  conscience  has  corrected 
him,  and  if  so,  he  has  torn  his  own  face.  Besides, 
you  are  to  remember,  that  to  wish  an  evil  man  should 
not  do  amiss,  is  just  as  wise  as  it  would  be  to  desire 
that  a  fig-tree  should  not  bear  juice  in  the  figs,  that 
children  should  not  squall,  nor  horses  neigh,  nor  a 
great  many  other  things  act  according  to  the  necessity 
of  their  condition.  Pray,  how  would  you  have  a  man 
of  such  an  unfortunate  disposition  behave  himself? 
If  you  are  angry,  try  to  cure  him. 

17.  If  it  is  not  seemly  never  do  it,  if  it  is  not  true, 
never  speak  it,  for  your  impulse  should  always  be 
under  your  control. 

18.  Look  always  nicely  into  whatever  makes  an 
impression  upon  your  mind,  distinguishing  it  into 
cause  and  matter ;  and  consider  its  purpose  and  design 
and  the  period  of  time,  beyond  which  it  is  unlikely  to 

19.  Consider,  for  it  is  high  time,  that  you  have 
something  more  divine  in  you  than  the  mechanism  of 
passion,  than  the  wires  of  a  puppet.  What  is  there 
now  in  my  soul  ?  Is  it  fear,  or  suspicion,  or  desire  ? 
Or  anything  of  this  coarse  nature  ? 

20.  Take  care  never  to  do  anything  without 
thought,  and  design,  nor  for  any  other  end  but  what 
may  be  serviceable  to  the  interest  of  society. 

21.  Consider  that  in  a  little  time  you  will  neither 


have  place,  nor  being,  that  your  contemporaries  will 
have  the  same  fate,  and  the  present  scene  of  nature 
be  shut  up.  For  all  things  are  formed  by  nature  to 
change  and  turn  and  drop  in  pieces,  that  new  ones 
may  be  continually  made  ont  of  them. 

22.  Remember  that  all  things  are  opinion,  and 
that  it  is  in  your  own  power  to  think  as  you  please. 
Therefore  remove  the  opinion,  and  then  as  if  you  had 
doubled  some  dangerous  cape,  you  will  have  nothing 
but  a  steady  course,  a  smooth  sea,  and  a  waveless  bay 
to  receive  you. 

23.  Every  activity  that  ceases  in  due  time,  suffers 
nothing  by  breaking  off:  Neither  does  the  agent 
receive  any  harm  from  this.  Thus  life,  Avhich  is 
nothing  but  a  series  and  continuation  of  action,  comes 
to  no  harm  by  having  a  seasonable  period  put  to  it : 
Neither  does  he  who  has  ended  this  series  in  due  time 
sustain  any  loss.  Now  nature  assigns  the  term  of 
life ;  sometimes  this  period  is  fixed  by  particular 
nature,  as  it  happens  when  a  man  dies  of  old  age ; 
but  let  it  con  late  or  early,  common  nature  has 
certainly  a  hand  in  it.  And  thus  the  parts  of  nature 
changing  from  one  form  to  another  preserve  the  whole 
world  in  perpetual  youth  and  vigour.  Now  that  is 
always  good  and  reasonable  which  makes  for  the 
service  of  the  universe.  From  hence  it  follows  that 
bare  dying  can  be  no  real  evil,  seeing  there  is  nothing 
disgraceful  in  it,  for  it  is  both  involuntary  with  respect 
to  ourselves,  and  serviceable  to  the  general  interest. 
Therefore,  it  is  certainly  a  good  thing,  since  it  is 
suitable,  and  seasonable,  and  profitable  to  the  universe, 



for  he  that  follows  the  Deity  with  his  motions,  and  is  led 
by  his  will  to  the  same  ends,  is  led  by  God  himself. 

24.  Let  these  three  hints  lie  ready  for  service. 
First,  As  to  your  own  actions  let  nothing  be  done 
rashly  nor  to  no  purpose,  nor  indeed  in  any  other 
manner  than  justice  itself  would  have  ordered  it. 
And  as  for  external  fortune,  consider  that  it  is  the 
blind  distribution  of  chance  or  else  the  appointment 
of  providence.  Now  either  to  murmur  against  chance 
or  impeach  providence  is  extremely  absurd.  Secondly, 
Consider  what  a  slight  thing  man  is  from  his  conception 
till  he  receives  his  soul ;  and  from  its  reception  till 
its  loss  ;  consider  too  the  parts  of  his  composition  and 
the  state  of  his  dissolution.  Thirdly,  Consider  that  if 
you  could  shoot  yourself  at  pleasure  into  the  sky  and 
thence  take  a  view  of  human  affairs,  you  would  per- 
ceive a  strange  medley  of  condition,  and  discover  at 
the  same  time  the  air,  and  ether  too,  plentifully  stocked 
with  inhabitants.  And  that  if  you  mounted  never  so 
often,  you  would  have  the  old  prospect.  Alas  !  things 
are  generally  of  the  same  complexion  and  of  the  same 
short  continuance  too,  and  yet  how  strangely  we  are 
conceited  of  them. 

25.  Discharge  opinion  and  you  are  safe  ;  and  pray 
who  can  hinder  you  from  doing  it  ? 

26.  When  you  are  uneasy  upon  any  account,  you 
have  forgotten  that  all  things  fall  out  according  to  the 
nature  of  the  universe,  and  that  another  man's  fault 
is  no  concern  of  yours,  that  what  you  reckon  griev- 
ances is  nothing  but  the  old  way  of  the  world  and  will 
come   over   again,   and   is   now   to   be  met  with  m  a 


thousand  places.  Yon  have  forgotten  that  all  mankind 
are  of  kin,  for  though  they  may  be  unallied  in  flesh 
and  blood,  their  understandings  are  all  of  the  same 
family.  Tou  do  not  remember  that  every  man's  soul 
is  a  portion  of  the  Deity,  and  derived  from  thence, 
that  we  have  nothing  properly  our  own,  but  that  our 
children,  our  bodies,  and  our  breath,  are  all  borrowed 
from  heaven,  that  opinion  governs  all,  and  that  it  is 
not  possible  for  any  body  to  live,  or  lose  any  more 
than  the  present  moment.  All  this  you  seem  to  have 

27.  Reflect  frequently  upon  those  that  have  formerly 
been  mightily  disturbed  with  accidents  of  any  kind, 
that  have  carried  their  animosities  and  feuds  to  the 
most  flaming  excess,  that  have  made  the  most  glorious 
figure  or  met  with  the  greatest  misfortune,  and  then 
ask  yourself,  Where  are  they  all  now  ?  They  are 
vanished  like  a  little  smoke,  they  are  nothing  but 
ashes,  and  a  tale,  or  not  even  a  tale.  Recollect  like- 
wise everything  of  this  sort,  what  Fabius  Catullinus 
did  at  his  country  seat ;  Lucius  Lupus,  in  his  garden  ; 
Stertinius,  at  Raise ;  Tiberius,  at  Capreae ;  Rufus,  at 
Velia,  in  short,  the  overweening  importance  attached 
to  anything  whatsoever  ;  and  know  that  the  prize  is 
insignificant,  and  the  play  not  worth  the  candle.  It  is 
much  more  becoming  a  philosopher  to  stand  clear  of 
affectation,  to  be  honest  and  temperate  upon  all  occa- 
sions, and  to  follow  cheerfully  wherever  the  gods  lead 
on,  for  nothing  is  more  scandalous  than  a  man  that  is 
proud  of  his  humility. 

28.  To  those  that  ask  me  the  reason  of  my  being 


so  earnest  in  religious  worship,  and  whether  I  ever  saw 
any  of  the  gods,  or  which  way  1  am  convinced  of  the 
certainty  of  their  existence  ;  in  the  first  place,  I  answer, 
that  the  gods  are  not  invisible.  But  granting  they 
were,  the  objection  would  signify  nothing,  for  I  never 
had  a  sight  of  my  own  soul,  and  yet  I  have  a  great 
value  for  it.  And  thus  by  my  constant  experience  of 
the  power  of  the  gods  I  have  a  proof  of  their  being, 
and  a  reason  for  my  veneration. 

29.  The  best  provision  for  a  happy  life  is  to  dissect 
everything,  view  its  own  nature,  and  divide  it  into 
matter  and  form.  To  practise  honesty  in  good  earnest, 
and  speak  truth  from  the  very  .soul  of  you.  What 
remains  but  to  live  easy  and  cheerful,  and  crowd 
one  good  action  so  close  to  another  that  there  may 
not  be  the  least  empty  space  between  them. 

30.  The  light  of  the  sun  is  but  one  and  the  same, 
though  it  is  divided  by  the  interposition  of  walls  and 
mountains,  and  abundance  of  other  opaque  bodies. 
There  is  but  one  common  matter,  though  it  is  par- 
celled out  among  bodies  of  different  qualities.  There 
is  but  one  sensitive  soul  too,  notwithstanding  it  is 
divided  among  innumerable  natures  and  individual 
limitations.  And  lastly,  the  rational  soul,  though  it 
seems  to  be  split  into  distinction,  is  but  one  and  the 
same.  Now,  excepting  this  last,  the  other  parts 
above-mentioned,  such  as  breath  and  matter,  though 
without  apprehension,  or  any  common  affection  to  tie 
them  to  each  other,  are  yet  upheld  by  an  intelligent 
being,  and  by  that  faculty  which  pushes  things  of  the 
same  nature   to  the  same   place  ;  but  human  under- 


standings  have  a  peculiar  disposition  to  union ;  they 
stick  together  by  inclination,  and  nothing  can  extin- 
guish such  sociable  thoughts  in  them. 

31.  What  is  it  you  hanker  after?  Is  it  bare 
existence  ?  or  sensation  ?  or  motion  ?  or  strength, 
that  you  may  lose  it  again  in  decay  ?  What  ?  Is  it 
the  privilege  of  speech,  or  the  power  of  thinking  in 
general  ?  Is  any  of  this  worth  desiring  ?  If  all  these 
things  are  trifles,  proceed  to  something  that  is  worth 
your  while,  and  that  is  to  be  governed  by  reason  and 
the  Deity.  And  yet  you  cannot  be  said  to  value  these 
last-mentioned  privileges  rightly,  if  you  are  disturbed 
because  death  must  take  them  from  you. 

82.  What  a  small  part  of  immeasurable  and  in- 
finite time  falls  to  the  share  of  a  single  mortal,  and 
how  soon  is  every  one  swallowed  up  in  eternity ! 
What  a  handful  of  the  universal  matter  goes  to  the 
making  of  a  human  body,  and  what  a  very  little  of  the 
universal  soul  too  !  And  on  what  a  narrow  clod  with 
respect  to  the  whole  earth  do  you  crawl  upon  !  Con- 
sider all  this,  and  reckon  nothing  great,  unless  it  be 
to  act  in  conformity  to  your  own  reason,  and  to  suffer 
as  the  universal  nature  shall  appoint  you. 

33.  The  great  business  of  a  man  is  to  improve  his 
mind,  therefore  consider  how  he  does  this.  As  for  all 
other  things,  whether  in  our  power  to  compass  or  not, 
they  are  no  better  than  lifeless  ashes  and  smoke. 

34.  We  cannot  have  a  more  promising  notion  to 
set  us  above  the  fear  of  death,  than  to  consider  that  it 
has  been  despised  even  by  that  sect  who  made  plea- 
sure and  pain  the  standard  of  good  and  evil. 


35.  He  that  likes  no  time  so  well  as  the  fitting 
season,  he  that  is  indifferent  whether  he  has  room  for 
a  long  progress  in  reason  or  not,  or  whether  he  has  a 
few  or  a  great  many  years  to  view  the  world  in,  a 
person  thus  qualified  will  never  be  afraid  of  dying. 

36.  Hark  ye  friend ;  you  have  been  a  burgher 
of  this  great  city,  what  matter  though  you  have 
lived  in  it  five  years  or  three  ;  if  you  have  observed 
the  laws  of  the  corporation,  the  length  or  shortness  of 
the  time  make  no  difference.  Where  is  the  hardship 
then  if  nature,  that  planted  you  here,  orders  your 
removal  ?  You  cannot  say  you  are  sent  off  by  a 
tyrant  or  unjust  judge.  No  ;  you  quit  the  stage  as 
fairly  as  a  player  does  that  has  his  discharge  from  the 
master  of  the  revels.  But  I  have  only  gone  through 
three  acts,  and  not  held  out  to  the  end  of  the  fifth. 
You  say  well ;  but  in  life  three  acts  make  the  play 
entire.  He  that  ordered  the  opening  of  the  first 
scene  now  gives  the  sign  for  shutting  up  the  last;  you 
are  neither  accountable  for  one  nor  the  other ;  there- 
fore retire  well  satisfied,  for  He,  by  whom  you  are 
dismissed,  is  satisfied  too. 

THE    END    OF    THE    TWELVE    BOOKS    OF    THE 



1.  Anniiis  Verus  was  his  grandfather's  name. 

2,  3.  Annius  Verus  was  also  his  father's  name  ;  his  mother's 
was  Domitia  Cal villa.  The  Emperor  T.  Antoninus  Pius  married 
the  sister  of  Annius  Verus,  and  was  thus  by  marriage  the  uncle 
of  Marcus  Aurelius  Antoninus,  whom  he  adopted. 

7,  8.  Q.  Junius  Rusticus  and  ApoUonius  of  Chalcis  were  Stoic 

11.  M.  Cornelius  Fronto  was  a  rhetorician,  who  had  been  the 
Emperor's  tutor.  Part  of  Marcus  Aurelius'  correspondence  with 
Fronto  is  still  extant. 

13.  Cinna  Catulus  was  a  Stoic  philosopher. 

14.  The  allusion  may  be  to  Claudius  Severus,  a  Stoic  philo- 

15.  Claudius  Maximus  was  a  Stoic  Philosopher. 

17.  "  It  is  the  favour  of  the  gods  that  I  happened  to  meet 
with  a  brother."  The  Emperor  had  no  brother.  If  this  refers 
to  Lucius  Verus,  his  adopted  brother,  he  certainly  does  not 
deserve  the  praise  here  bestowed. 


13,  "  As  the  poet  says." — Pindar,  quoted  in  the  "  Theaetetus  " 
of  Plato. 


27.  The  Greek  word  for  Universe  and  Order  is  the  same, 
Koa/xos.  Thus  the  "  universe,"  or  "  universal  order,"  is  con- 
trasted with  chaos  or  disorder. 


34.  Clotho  was  one  of  the  Fates.  They  were  three  sisters — 
Clotho,  the  spinning  fate ;  Lachesis,  the  one  who  assigns  to  man 
his  fate ;  and  Atropos,  the  sister  who  cut  the  thread  when  a 
man's  destiny  was  accomplished. 


35.  From  Plato's  "  Eepnblic,"  Book  vi.  p.  486. 

38.  From  Euripides'  "  Bellerophon." 

40.  From  Euripides'  "  Hypsiple." 

42.  Aristophanes,  "Acharniaus,"  1.  661. 

44-45.  From  Plato's  "  Apology,"  p.  28. 

46.  From  Plato's  "Gorgias,"  p.  512. 

48.  This  does  not  appear  to  be  in  any  of  Plato's  extant 
writings.  It  has  been  suggested  that  it  should  rather  be 
referred  to  Pythagoras. 

50.  From  Euripides'  "  Chrysippus." 

51.  The  first  two  lines  are  from  Euripides'  "  Supplices,"  1110 

66.  "Leon  of  Salamis."  In  the  year  404  B.C.,  during  the  terrible 
tyranny  of  "  the  Thirty "  at  Athens,  Socrates  was  ordered  to 
assist  in  unjustly  arresting  a  rich  citizen  of  Salamis,  and  bring- 
ing him  to  Athens  for  a  trial  that  was  only  a  mockery  of  justice. 
Socrates  refused  to  do  this  ;  and  he  alludes  to  this  in  the 
"  Apology."  "  But  when  the  oligarchy  of  '  the  Thirty '  was  in 
power,  they  sent  for  me  and  four  others  into  the  rotunda,  and 
bade  us  bring  Leon  the  Salaminian  from  Salamis,  as  they  wanted 
to  execute  him.  That  was  a  specimen  of  the  sort  of  commands 
they  were  always  giving  with  a  view  to  implicating  as  many  as 
possible  in  their  crimes  ;  and  then  I  showed,  not  in  word  only, 
but  in  deed,  that,  if  I  may  be  allowed  to  use  such  an  expression, 
I  aired  not  a  straw  for  death,  and  that  my  sole  fear  was  the  fear 
of  doing  an  unrighteous  or  unholy  thing.  For  the  strong  arm  of 
the  oppressive  power  did  not  frighten  me  into  doing  wrong,  and 
when  we  came  out  of  the  rotunda,  the  other  four  went  to  Salamis 
and  fetched  Leon,  but  I  went  quietly  home."  (Plato,  "Apology," 
p.  32,  trs.  by  Jowett.) 

NOTES.  211 

"  That  he  walked  in  a  swaggering  way."  This  is  asserted  by 
Aristophanes  in  his  comedy,  the  "  Clouds,"  where  he  ridicules 


3.  Caius  is  Caius  Julius  Caesar. 

57.  Marcus  Aurelius  is  trying  to  derive  the  Greek  word  for 
rays  d/crii/es  from  the  verb  eKrebeadai — to  be  extended.  The 
explanation  is  obviously  impossible.  Such  bad  etymology  was 
common  at  a  time  when  no  real  science  of  words  existed. 


29.  In  his  "  Republic,"  Plato  sketches  an  ideal  state  in  which 
the  institutions  and  government  are  to  attain  perfection. 


6.  "The  islands  of  the  blest."  Homer  (Od.  iv.)  speaks  of  the 
Elysian  plain  at  the  extremity  of  the  world,  "  where  life  is  easiest 
for  men.  No  snow  is  there,  nor  yet  great  storm,  nor  any  rain, 
but  alway  ocean  sendeth  forth  the  breeze  of  the  shrill  west  to 
blow  cool  on  men."  (Trs.  by  Butcher  and  Lang.)  Plutarch  iden- 
tifies the  Canaries  with  this  description.  After  describing  their 
delightful  climate,  he  says,  "  So  that  it  is  generally  believed  even 
among  the  barbarians,  that  these  are  the  Elysian  fields  and 
the  seats  of  the  blessed  "  (Plutarch,  "  Sertorius  "). 

21.  There  is  a  sort  of  play  here  on  the  word  0iXe?,  which  means 
both  "  loves,"  and  "  is  wont."  The  Stoics  delighted  in  these 
plays  on  words,  and  even  used  the  names  of  the  gods  in  a  pun- 
ning sense. 

23.  The  quotation  is  from  Plato's  "  Theaetetus,"  p.  174, 
but  it  is  curiously  applied.  In  the  original  the  words  are  used 
disparagingly.  Plato  is  describing  the  philosopher,  and  showing 
with  what  contempt  he  would  look  on  the  greatness  of  a  tyrant  or 
king.  "  Then  again  he  observes  that  the  great  man  is  of  necessity 
as  ill-mannered  and  uneducated  as  any  shepherd,  for  he  has  no 

212  NOTES. 

leisure,  and  he  is  surrounded  by  a  wall  which  is  his  mountain- 
pen."     (Jowett's  translation.) 

31.  Crito  was  a  friend  of  Socrates,  and  gave  his  name  to  one 
of  Plato's  dialogues. 

34.  The  quotation  is  from  Homer,  "  Iliad,"  vi.  146 


6.  "  O  Cithaeron."  The  words  occur  in  one  of  the  choruses  in 
Sophocles'  "  (Edipus  Tyrannus,"  1.  1089.  (Edipus  had  been 
exposed  as  an  infant  on  Mount  Cithaeron,  in  order  to  avoid 
the  terrible  doom  prophesied  him. 

22.  The  first  extant  version  of  the  story  of  the  town  and  the 
country  mouse  occurs  in  Horace's  "  Satires,"  ii.  6. 

26.  The  Ephesians  are  probably  the  followers  of  Heraclitus, 


3.  Empedocles  of  Agrigentum  was  a  philosopher  who 
flourished  about  444  e.g.  He  was  the  first  to  establish  the 
number  of  four  elements.  These  were,  he  thought,  acted  on  by 
two  moving  causes — love  (combination),  and  strife  (separation). 
Originally  the  four  elements  were  combined  in  a  sphere  where 
love  reigned  supreme,  and  all  was  peace  and  harmony.  Strife^ 
which  was  originally  outside  the  sphere,  gradually  forced  its 
way  in,  and  so  began  the  period  of  change  in  which  we  are 
living.  Empedocles  wrote  an  epic  describing  the  origin  of  the 
world,  and  from  this  the  line  in  the  text  is  a  quotation. 

34.  This  section  refers  to  the  Epicureans.  Their  doctrine 
made  the  chief  good  consist  in  pleasure,  but  as  they  believed  that 
only  virtue  would  afiford  true  pleasure,  their  teaching  was  really 
capable  of  producing  noble  men.  Our  modern  term  "  Epicurean  " 
in  no  way  does  justice  to  the  teaching  of  Epicurus  and  his 
immediate  followers. 

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a  pozm  on  the  Ccoftec  jgv>iction3* 


By  MATHILDE  BLIND.     Price  is. 

"A  subject  of  our  own  time  fertile  in  what  is  pathetic  and  awe-inspirlnpf,  and  free 
from  any  taint  of  the  vulgar  and  conventional.  .  .  .  Positive  subject-natter,  the 
emotion  which  inheres  in  actual  life,  the  very  smile  and  the  very  tear  anu  heart-pang, 
are,  after  all,  precious  to  poetry,  and  we  have  them  here.  '  The  Heather  on  Fire '  may 
possibly  prove  something  of  a  new  departure,  and  one  that  was  certainly  nut  super 
fluous.  .  .  ,  Even  apart  from  the  fascination  of  its  subject-matter,  the  poem  is  developed 
^th  spirit  and  energy,  with  a  feeling  for  homely  truth  of  character  and  treatment, 
and  vrith  a  generally  pervasive  sense  of  beauty." — Athenceum. 

"  Miss  Blind  has  chosen  for  her  new  poem  one  of  those  terrible  Highland  clearances 
which  stain  the  history  of  Scotch  landlordism.  Though  her  tale  is  a  fiction,  it  is  too 
well  founded  on  fact.  ...  It  may  be  said  generally  of  the  poem  that  the  most  difficult 
scenes  are  those  in  which  Miss  Blind  succeeds  best ;  and  on  the  whole  we  are  inclined 
to  think  that  its  greatest  and  most  surprising  success  is  the  picture  of  the  poor  old 
soldier,  Rory,  driven  mad  by  the  burning  of  his  wife." — Academy. 

"  A  subject  which  has  painfully  pre-occupied  public  opinion  is,  in  the  poem  entitled 
'The  Heather  on  Fire,'  treated  with  characteristic  power  by  Miss  Blind.  .  .  .  Both  as 
a  narrative  and  descriptive  poem,  'The  Heather  on  Fire'  is  equally  remarkable." — 
Morning  Post. 

"  A  poem  remarkable  for  beauty  of  expression  and  pathos  of  incidents  will  be  found 
in  "The  Heather  on  Fire."  Exquisitely  tfelicato  are  the  touches  with  which  the  progress 
of  this  tale  of  true  love  is  delineated  up  to  its  consummation  amid  the  simple  rejoicings  of 
the  neighbourhood  ;  and  the  flight  of  years  of  married  life  and  daily  toil,  as  numerous 
as  those  of  their  courtship,  is  told  in  stanzas  full  of  music  and  soul.  .  .  This  tale 
is  one  which,  unless  we  are  mistaken,  may  so  affect  public  feeling  as  to  be  an  effectual 
bar  to  similar  human  clearings  in  future." — Leeds  Mercury. 

"Literature  and  poetry  are  never  seen  at  their  best  save  in  contact  with  actual  life. 
This  little  book  abounds  in  vivid  delineation  of  character,  and  is  redolent  with  the 
noblest  human  sympathy." — Newcastle  Daily  Chronicle. 

"The  Heather  on  Fire"  is  a  poem  that  is  rich  not  only  in  power  and  beauty  but 
in  that  "  enthusiasm  of  humanity"  which  stirs  and  moves  us,  and  of  which  so  much 
contemporary  verse  is  almost  painfully  deficient.  .  .  .  Miss  Blind  is  not  a  mere  poetic 
trifler  who  considers  that  the  best  poetry  is  that  written  by  the  man  who  has  nothing 
to  say  but  can  say  that  nothing  gracefully.  .  ,  .  We  can  best  describe  the  kind  of  her 
success  by  noting  the  fact  that  while  engaged  in  the  perusal  of  her  book  we  do  not 
say,  "  What  a  fine  poem ! "  but  "  What  a  terrible  story  1 "  or  more  probably  still  say 
nothing  at  all  but  read  on  and  on  under  the  spell  of  a  great  horror  and  an  overpowering 
pity.  Poetry  of  which  this  can  be  said  needs  no  other  recommendation." — The 
Manchester  Examiner  and  Times. 

"  A  poem  recently  published  in  London  ('  The  Heather  on  Fire  ;  a  Tale  of  the  High- 
land Clearances ')  is  declared,  in  one  of  the  articles  which  have  appeared  in  the  German 
Eress  on  the  Scottish  Land  Question,  '  to  be  based  on  terrible  truth  and  undoubted  real 
orrors ;  giving,  in  noblest  poetical  language  and  thrilling  words,  a  description  which 
ought  to  be  a  spur  of  action  to  thinking  statesmen.'  " — North  British  Daily  Mail. 

London  ;  WALTER  SCOTT,  24  Warwick  Lane,  Paternoster  Row. 

Ube  Cantevbutis  {poets. 




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By   eric   ROBERTSON,    M.A. 

This  Volume  contains  contributions  by  Lord 
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James  Russell  Lowell,  George  Macdonald,  Algernon 
Charles  Swinburne,  Theodore  Watts,  Austin  Dobson, 
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Tl^e  CantepbuF]^  Poets. 

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Robert  Browning. 
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Archbishop  Trfench. 
J.  Addington  Symonds, 
W.  Bell  Scott. 
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Edward  Dowden. 
Edmund  Gosse. 
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George  Meredith. 
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Mrs.  Barrett  Browning. 
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or    PASSAGES    FROM    THE    WORKS    OF 


With    an    Introduction    by   WILLIAM    SHARP. 

"In  a  daintily-printed  little  volume,  a  friendly  hand  has  brought 
together,  from  the  poems  of  Mr.  Alfred  Austin,  a  complete  Poetic  Calendar 
for  the  Year.  Each  day  has  its  separate  flower  of  song  fitting  to  the  season, 
or  true  to  the  thoughts  that  the  season  suggests — a  rosary  for  the  daily 
devotions  of  those  who  love  Nature  and  can  feel  the  charm  of  verse.  .  .  , 
To  all  who  care  for  sweet  thoughts  sweetly  expressed,  who  have  mused 
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uplands  ;  to  all  who  find  melody  and  harmony  in  Nature,  this  daily 
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